COUNCILLORS have been left outraged by a police failure to move travellers from a cliff top beauty spot.

A number of vehicles set up an illegal camp at the Cliffhanger overflow car park in Highcliffe two weeks ago.

But a senior police officer decided not to invoke powers under Section 62 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.

Superintendent Peter Little said while group fitted the requirements for the law to be invoked, the camp was 'low risk', there was no antisocial behaviour and it was a matter of having enough police resources.

In an email he said it would be 'disproportionate' to act.

Now Christchurch councillors are to take the matter further to a political level.

Chairman of Christchurch's planning committee, Cllr Lesley Dedman said: "I am aware that council officers have done all in their power to minimise the disruption caused by a group of Irish travellers moving on to the beautiful and well used area of Highcliffe cliff top during the Bank Holiday.

"But I am extremely disappointed that the senior police officer who was asked to assess the situation decided not to use the powers vested under S62 to move these people on to the proper sites provided.

"I do not agree with his assessment of the situation. The powers are there to be used, and should be used to protect the law abiding majority.

"There were designated sites to move these travellers on to, and this should have been done as soon as possible. As it is residents have had to see this unsightly camp site on the cliff, during our busy Bank holiday, and to put up amongst other problems, with the travellers using our bus stops as lavatories."

Cllr Dedman said she had been "inundated" with complaints from residents.

Dorset County Council's service director, Peter Moore, told colleagues: "We have had a number of issues with how the police have interpreted and applied the s62 power across Dorset this summer and we will be seeking a senior level review...with Dorset Police to discuss this."

When a Christchurch housing officer went to see the travellers, who broke a chain to get into the overflow, a representative of the group told him to 'contact their solicitor.'

Although three police officers turned up, they passed the matter up the line to superintendent level.

The travellers have now gone.