TRAVELLERS who have set up an illegal encampment claim they have nowhere else to go having been forced on every time they stop.

The group allegedly forced entry onto Queen Elizabeth park, Billericay at approximately 1am, and brought seven caravans and four horses with them.

One of the travellers told the Echo: “We really don’t want to be here, but we’ve been removed from everywhere else.

“There aren’t any caravan sites nearby which have long term availability.

“We’re only going to be here for a week.

“It’s a waste of police time when they come down.

Another said: “Everyone paints us with the same brush.

“We’re not going to steal from people’s sheds or leave loads of mess behind.

“We’re nice people.

“People passing through constantly give us racial abuse for no reason.”

Adam Adshead, town councillor for Billericay east, said: “It’s an annual problem.

“They are trespassing; any sympathy people we may have disappears when they leave mess behind.

“It costs an awful lot of money to clear up after them.”

Councillor Andrew Schrader, added: “It’s sadly becoming the usual song and dance around the legal proceedings.

“I’m campaigning to make illegal encampments a criminal matter not a civil matter.

“We try to provide places for travellers to go, but Basildon and surrounding areas will always be under pressure; there’s only a finite amount of land available.

“We’re in contact with the relevant officers to try and sort it all out and I’ll be providing updates on my Facebook page.”

A spokesman for Basildon Council, said: “A group of travellers came from Sandon and police visited on Friday.

“Officers from the Essex Countywide Traveller Unit will visit to undertake an initial assessment and start the legal proceedings to move the travellers off the land.”

Essex Police confirmed that they are monitoring the situation and enquiries are ongoing.

Applications to evict can take several days.