A LARGE group of travellers pitched up at a car park at a popular beauty spot.

At least eight caravans arrived at the car park, off Chanterelle, Colchester, on Saturday.

The site provides space for visitors to High Woods Country Park to leave their vehicles before exploring the Colchester Council run land.

A barrier which prevents large vehicles from entering the car park is understood to have been circumvented for the caravans to access the site.

Ward councillor Gerard Oxford (Ind, Highwoods) said dozens of concerned residents had contacted him via email, telephone and social media.

“The second I found out about the caravans on Saturday I reported it to the Essex Countywide Traveller Unit, the Colchester Council portfolio holder Mike Lilley and chief executive Adrian Pritchard,” he said.

“High Woods is an award-winning country park and residents of the area are concerned.

“The limiter is there for a reason but they appear to have broken through it.

“I am hopeful given the circumstances and the location the police may be able to step in and use their special powers.

“I will be chasing it up as we do not want to allow the situation to drag on.

“I will follow it up with the council as well as it may be we need other measures put in place to stop it happening again.”

The encampment was set up shortly after the popular weekly Highwoods park run on Saturday, which starts from the Chanterelle car park.

Mr Oxford said: “Saturday’s run may have to be cancelled if they are not moved by then and the area can’t be cleared up in time.”

A spokesman for Colchester Council said: “We are aware of an unauthorised encampment of five caravans and three motor-homes at Chanterelle car park in High Woods Country Park.

"We have been informed the police have attended and the Essex Countywide Traveller Unit (ECTU) have also visited the site and carried out initial welfare checks.

"If there are no immediate welfare or health concerns, such as pregnancy or illness requiring medical supervision, the travellers will be asked to leave the site.

“If the travellers do not leave the site, we will need to go through the courts to ensure their removal. If we have to apply for a court order, the procedure will take between 7- 10 days.

“In certain circumstances, the police may choose to use their emergency powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. It is for the senior officer who visits the encampment to decide what action should be taken.”

On Friday a group of travellers arrived at the Britannia Car Park at St Botolph’s Circus, Colchester.

Colchester Council, which also owns the car park, reported the group the police and travellers unit and they quickly left the area.