TRAVELLERS have continued their cat-and-mouse game with council officials after occupying a car park close to Poole Park straight after being evicted from nearby Hamworthy Park.

Six caravans and one motor home are parked up at the far end of the Dolphin Swimming Pool car park, off Kingland Road, which usually only offers a maximum four hours stay.

They arrived at the 344-space car park last night, and Borough of Poole has already started gathering evidence to secure a court order.

However, no court date will be available until after the bank holiday weekend, meaning it is unlikely they will move on before next week.

This latest unauthorised encampment comes after borough officials successfully applied for an eviction order for the Hamworthy site midweek.

Residents, who voiced concerns at the ease of how Hamworthy Park was accessed, said they were worried the travellers would simply move to another site locally once the legal process to remove them came to a conclusion.

Motorist Stephen Watson, who was parking in the Swimming Pool car park yesterday to use the nearby leisure centre, said: “They’re hidden away at the back of the car park, and I’m happy to park here for the day.

“I suppose if more people try to park and cannot because of them, that will pose a problem.

“But, otherwise, they don’t seem to be causing any problems.

“To be honest, I barely noticed they were there.”

A resident of Kingland Road, who asked not to be named, said she’d not heard of any problems from a friend who lives near Hamworthy Park.

Council officers confirmed the travellers left the park clean, bagging up all their domestic refuse and leaving no commercial waste.

“I know that travellers and gypsies gets certain people’s blood boiling, but we live in a country of different cultures – which the travelling community is part of.

“Unless there are any problems, live and let live, that is what I say.”

Borough of Poole regulatory services manager Peter Haikin explained the council was legally obliged to balance interests of both the travellers and the local community when dealing with unauthorised encampments.

Expanding on this point, Mr Haikin added: “For example, if an encampment is in a designated borough park or a field in trust, we will seek a court order as a matter of urgency.

“In this instance we have already started gathering evidence required to obtain a court order, and if necessary seek a court hearing date following the bank holiday.

“The car park is still being used by visitors and will remain open.”

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