TRAVELLERS who set up camp at Baiter Park in Poole on Friday night have been treating the area “like Silverstone racing track”, according to a disgruntled resident.

Police were called to the park just after 9pm on Friday following reports of reckless driving. Thirteen caravans and motorhomes and other vehicles arrived at the site a few hours prior to the incident.

Police are also investigating reports that one of the gates to the park was damaged when the travellers moved onto the site.

Poole council have confirmed the travellers at Baiter Park are the same group who recently set up camp at Poole Park’s cricket pavilion. They moved on before the arrival of bailiffs.

A spokesperson said a skip and portable toilets would be provided at Baiter Park “to minimise environmental contamination on the site”.

They added: "The group have broken through a gate to get on to the area that they are on – along where the footpath and cycle path is. We do have posts around the edge of the car park to prevent vehicles from getting onto the field and gates located across the park to prevent access.

"We are starting legal proceedings to remove the travellers from the site as soon as possible."

Mike Randall, chair of the Parkstone Bay Association, said visitors were unable to enjoy the park at the weekend due to the presence of the travellers, and residents had been disturbed by the sound of cars “careering across the park” until late in the evening.

“It was a great weekend but we couldn’t enjoy the park because of these maniacs driving around. They’ve been treating the place like Silverstone racing track and churning the grass up. It was going on throughout the evening until 11pm on Friday.

“It’s the recklessness that hacks me off. They were charging around and throwing things - there’s no need for that.

“One campervan was driving along the promenade on Sunday morning and a lady with a pram and a child walking alongside had to go onto the grass to get out of the way.”

Mike said he sympathised with the council who were “between a rock and a hard place”.

“There are boulders and an earth bund around the park, but the travellers went round the back and smashed the gate open.

“In the past, I’ve been able to talk to travellers who camp here, and they’ve been quite amenable, but not this lot.”

Poole residents Bob and Patricia Lister said it was “time authorities got tough with travellers”.

“The police don’t seem to do anything,” they added.

A spokesperson for Dorset Police said: “We were called at shortly after 7pm on Friday, May 11, to reports that travellers had set up at Baiter Park in Poole. We are continuing to liaise with the group and the council.

“At around 9.15pm on Friday, Dorset Police received reports of concerns over reckless driving in the area. Officers attended and no offences were identified. Words of advice were given to a number of individuals in the area.”

Yesterday, the council confirmed that travellers in two caravans had also set up an unauthorised encampment on land adjacent to the park and ride in Upton Road.