THE traveller group which moved from a country park onto a sports field has fuelled the debate on whether to bring in an injunction.

Opposition Tory councillors at Southend Council last month called for an injunction to be granted to put a blanket ban on traveller groups pitching up in public spaces in the borough.

However, the proposal was voted down by the Labour Lib Dem and Independent administration, with the council instead opting to gather evidence every time travellers pitch up to justify a tougher response in the future.

But Tory deputy mayor Mark Flewitt said residents are “fed up”.

He said: “I do not understand why the majority of the administration members will not come with us and get an injunction.

“We realise the legal team will not be keen to take on all the extra work it may bring, as they do have a lot to deal with already, but we really feel that the opportunities that it would create would be worthwhile.

“It’s not a complicated matter, we just don’t want to see groups coming onto public land and causing a nuisance.

“We’ve had it in the past – not all of the traveller groups cause trouble, but a lot of them have done.

“We’re quite sensitive about this and we will continue to push for an injunction.”

Ian Gilbert, Labour leader of the council, said more evidence would be needed before it could convince the court a blanket ban is necessary.

He said: “The advice before from the legal team was quite clear that we wouldn’t get the injunction. I’m not downplaying the seriousness of it, but if we look at other places which have managed to get one, they are looking at problems which are about ten times as bad as what we’re suffering.

“I’m perfectly open to revisiting the decision if we have collected evidence and that we have a chance to persuade the court that it is appropriate.

“For that to happen, the decision would need to be made on the number of incidents, which would have to be much more than we are experiencing at the moment.”

The debate comes after travellers have left a public car park after pitching up for more than a week...but haven’t gone far.

The group of five caravans and two campervans left Cherry Orchard Jubilee Country Park on Sunday afternoon, nine days after pitching up there on August 2.

They have now relocated to the field at the Westcliff Rugby Football Club on Aviation Way.

They had previously been served with a court order to vacate the land at Cherry Orchard Way by Saturday.

The land at the club is owned by Southend Council, but the site falls within Rochford Council’s constituency.

In a statement, the club said: “On Sunday members of the exec spoke with them and apparently they intend to leave before they are evicted. The eviction process could take anything up to 14 days and day one is Monday.

“We have requested and they have agreed to keep their presence as low key as possible and that they agree to keep the small area they are using clean and free of any kind of waste. Rubbish collection will be organised through the council.

“This is a challenging ongoing discussion but we intend to deal with them in the same non confrontational way that has so far been fruitful. We would appreciate that members do not approach them directly to save the possibility of mixed messages being delivered.”

Club chairman Pete Jones said: “My fear is what they may leave behind. Some days we will have children as young as six running and jumping around on the fields playing rugby.

“If there is a hazardous waste left behind it could result in injuries to the kids.”