THE cost of preventing travellers from getting access to parks across Basildon is too much for the council to afford, according to officials.

Bosses at Basildon Council say security measures to prevent illegal incursions would cost about £600,000, a sum which they cannot afford as the authority emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.

If the measures were to be introduced, taxpayers would be lumped with a £300,000 bill, meaning a subsequent rise in council tax.

The council’s plan to introduce security measures has now fallen through due to the large costs, according to the deputy leader of Basildon Council, Kerry Smith.

It comes after about 15 caravans arrived at Beacon Field Country Park, in Langdon Hills, on Sunday, having travelled up the A127 from Southend Rugby Club.

That group has now pitched up at Sporting Village and was yesterday ordered to leave by Essex Police.

Mr Smith said: “It would have cost £300,000 to the taxpayer, with the council cobbling around for the other £300,000. We simply don’t have the money to do this. We looked at security measures earlier this year but Covid-19 got in the way.

“We need more funding from the Government if we want to beef up security for our parks.

“If we want to stop travellers illegally camping, the Irish Option needs to be passed. Our MPs need to support councils and get it signed off.”

Gavin Callaghan, the leader of Basildon Council, expressed his fury at the lack of urgency from police in removing the travellers, with the force initially saying criteria for a Section 61 notice - which can be used to expedite the process - had not been met.

The leader sad: “We are losing income at the sporting village already.

“This is only reducing that income further. I’d be happy to send the Police Commissioner an invoice for our loss of income and clean up bill.

“We should have the powers to serve these notices ourselves rather than be reliant on other agencies to do it for us.”

Basildon Council said the estimated cost for security measures such as bollards and barriers would be £647,000 and would have taken two years.