ABOUT 20 caravans have been pitched up on land at the top of a busy high street.

The travellers set up at Sun Corner, Billericay, on Saturday, and allegedly forced entry by moving stumps blocking the entrance.

It is understood this is the fourth year in a row that travellers have pitched up at the site.

Mike Andrews, from Billericay Action Group and Billericay District Residents Association, said he thinks residents want to see swift action to remove them.

He said: “The law regarding this should be obeyed and we expect people to do so. We also expect those who enforce the law do to so quickly.

“I have had messages about the travellers and also saw them there when I drove past. I would imagine there is a lot of concern in town about this and there is whenever it happens.

“There is also concern about why it is taking so long to remove them from the site.”

Father Dan Mason, national catholic chaplain for gypsies, roma and travellers at The Most Holy Redeemer Billericay, went to see the group.

He said: “I do not condone unauthorised encampments and where they are is not appropriate.

“I entirely understand frustrations by the residents. I spoke to them on Sunday to see if I could help at all in terms of mediation.

“The lack of appropriate stopping places for the traveller community is something I have been working on and Basildon Council is good on working on the issue.”

A Basildon Council spokesman said: “An unauthorised encampment of 12 caravans and associated vehicles on Queen Elizabeth II Field, formerly known as Sun Corner, was reported to the Essex Countywide Traveller Unit (ECTU) on Sunday.

“They attended on July 23 to assess the community impact and to serve Direction to Leave notices.”

A spokesman from Essex Police said it was continuing to monitor the situation and the Gypsy and Traveller Rural Engagement Team was liaising with the encampment. The spokesman added: “We can only use Section 61 powers if it is lawful, necessary and proportionate in the individual circumstances.

“Unauthorised encampments are subject to regular site assessments and where criminal offences are committed and allegations of anti-social behaviour are made, we will make every effort to hold those responsible to account for their actions.”