A POPULAR Poole boat show which brings in £10,000s in sales and attracts 1,500 people each year has been cancelled because of a traveller invasion.

Canford Park Arena's Dorset Boat Jumble, which was due to open on Saturday (March 23) has been pulled at the last minute after six traveller families set up an illegal encampment on an arena access road.

Landowners were also forced to cancel seven junior football matches, scheduled for the site on Sunday, affecting hundreds of parents and distraught youngsters.

Chris Chaddock, organiser of the boat jumble, told the Daily Echo: “These lawless people have come into the area. Law-abiding people like us, the landowners and the exhibitors have been penalised financially because of it. It is outrageous.

“This show has taken place in the arena for 10 years and is much loved by people across the south west. They are going to be gutted it is cancelled. I've had people almost crying on the phone because their day out has been spoiled.”

Mr Chaddock, of Chaddock & Fox Promotions, says his company was forced to pull the plug while landowners took legal steps to remove the encampment, amid fears the travellers would hamper the show.

However, after arriving last Saturday the travellers finally moved off on Tuesday evening, but Mr Chaddock says it's too late to reverse the cancellation.

Three caravans and other rubbish has been abandoned at the site, leaving landowners facing hefty clear-up costs.

Canford Park manager Sam McKirdy explained: “We started legal proceedings shortly after the travellers arrived and informed the boat show promoters that this usually takes a week plus.

“Soon afterwards they took the decision to cancel, and now it's too late for them to reverse this. It is a shame.

“As private landlords we meet all clean-up costs and the travellers have dumped three caravans and the usual trash. It's a mess, but we'll have it cleaned soon.

Travellers are always a big concern for us because it is so costly to get them moved on.”

Mr McKirdy confirmed he'd been liaising with Borough of Poole on the issue.

Dorset Boat Jumble is a regional boat show selling new and used marine equipment.

Sunday's regular car boot sale at Canford Arena will go ahead as usual.