Council to spend £8,000 to stop travellers taking over park
PUBLISHED: 07:38 08 November 2019
Thousands of pounds will be spent to prevent illegal traveller encampments taking over a Portishead park.
Portishead Town Council has agreed to spend £8,000 installing grass mounds, or bunds, at the entrance of Merlin Park following a 'disruptive' week-long incursion over the summer.
The authority hopes its efforts will prevent caravans from being able to enter the park - which is used by many children for play, dog walkers and skateboarders who use the halfpipe - in future.
Town council chairman Paul Gardner told the Times the decision followed three unauthorised traveller camps being set up in the summer across Portishead - at private land near Sainsbury's, at Kilkenny Fields and in Merlin Park.
Cllr Gardner said: "The one at Merlin Park was during the school holidays and particularly disruptive for local residents.
"This is the first time that there has been an incursion at unauthorised encampment at Merlin Park.
"Having discussed with experts at North Somerset Council, the town council felt there is a strong likelihood of a repeat at Merlin Park given the site is now known and is spacious and tucked away from view.
"Therefore we worked with our North Somerset colleagues to look at the best solution.
"Large objects such as boulders or gates are not particularly effective as traveller communities often have lifting gear so can easily move them.
"Overlapping grass mounds or bunds have been shown to be much more effective as they make it very difficult for caravans to enter a site.
"This situation also well suits the physical layout of Merlin Park, which has a wide area where access can be gained."
A contractor has been appointed by the town council, which hopes the bunds will be in place before the spring.
The town council has no plans to take similar measures elsewhere, but Cllr Gardner insists it will 'monitor the situation closely'.
He added: "I would like to thank residents for their patience during the Merlin Park incursion and for their assistance in the clear-up effort after the travellers left.
"I would also like to thank colleagues at North Somerset Council for quickly putting together a practical solution."