POOLE is preparing to defend six of its most vulnerable open spaces against traveller camps.

The council voted to share £231,000 among six public open spaces to fund a variety of security measures ranging from mounds and hedges to posts, rocks and height restrictions.

Whitecliff, Baiter, Verity Crescent, Haskells Recreation Ground, Broadstone Recreation Ground and Branksome Recreation Ground are the areas deemed most at risk.

Last summer travellers played cat and mouse with the authorities, moving from site to site, with one particular group responsible for five out of the 14 encampments.

After the failure to find a temporary transit site to move travellers onto, Borough of Poole has now turned its sights towards protection.

However this is no quick fix as the environment overview and scrutiny committee’s recommendation went to cabinet last night with councillors deciding which measures are best for each site.

The first incursion last year was on May 23 on land adjacent to the Creekmoor park and ride, but travellers have arrived as early as March in previous years.

Cllr Tony Trent, chairman of the committee said before the meeting: “There was an urgency to getting some of the most vulnerable sites in Poole made more secure.

He added: “If there is any money remaining it will be prioritised towards the next most vulnerable sites that are close to children’s play area, sports facilities, and have suffered recent incursions.”

Jacqui Wilson, chairman of Branksome West Residents Association, who has been pushing for protection said: “It’s a brilliant idea.” She pointed out last year’s incursion cost the council around £1,500 – the same cost as protective barriers.

“And we might get some more extensive planting out of it. I shall be pushing for things to be in place by June,” she said.

In August last year 19 vans set up home on Branksome Rec for six days and court action was taken. Residents such as Hayley Smith, 29, are in favour of taking preventative measures.

“I think if it’s to protect it from greater damage it’s a worthwhile investment,” she said.

Shaun Robson, head of environmental and consumer protection said: “It is anticipated that some of these measures can be implemented reasonably quickly.

“Other options will take longer including the planting of hedges which cannot take place until the autumn. However, we will endeavour to complete these works as soon as we can.”

Branksome resident Mandy Smith, 52, who takes her grandchildren to play on the rec said: “I think this will help. If it stops them getting onto a quite popular piece of ground, go ahead. It needs to be done.”

Steve Ford, 49, who takes his children to play on the rec said: “There are not a huge amount of big open spaces around here. The more they can do to keep the travellers off the better it will be.”

Barbara Lankston, 65, from Parkstone, exercising her dog Katie at the rec said: “It’s absolutely 100 per cent a good idea. This is a lovely place. I come here in the car, it’s good for parking, children come to play, people walk through it to the shops.”

James Martin, 77, who walks his dog at the rec said: “They should put in a three ft railing fence all the way around and stabilise it into the ground so it can’t be pulled out.”

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