TRAVELLERS have once again pitched up on fields in north Colchester.

Pictures show around 20 caravans parked up on land near Colchester’s Northern Gateway Leisure Park.

Residents first spotted the caravans on Monday and they remained on the site this morning.

The land is close to the junction of Via Urbis Romanae and Axial Way, Mile End, and is next to a path which connects Via Urbis Romanae to Mill Road through the former home of Colchester Rugby Club.

Gazette: Vans - Work vans have also been spottedVans - Work vans have also been spotted (Image: Newsquest)

Dogs, work vans, and three horses are also on the land.

A Colchester Council spokesman confirmed the council is dealing with the incident.

Travellers occupied nearby land, off Mill Road, Colchester, in July, before moving on to Suffolk.

The land previously occupied by the rugby club could be overhauled after proposals were submitted to Colchester Council’s planning department last year which could see the former clubhouse demolished and a new two-storey community centre put in its place.

Gazette: Surrounded - Caravans are parked around the perimeterSurrounded - Caravans are parked around the perimeter (Image: Newsquest)

More recently, caravans and mobile homes caused car park chaos at the Sainsbury’s supermarket in Western Approach, Stanway.

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What happens to unauthorised encampments?

An Essex Police spokesman said officers would only usually get involved if enforcement action taken by the landowner is unsuccessful.

He added: “Unauthorised traveller encampments are a civil act of trespass and, in the first instance, the landowner - be they private or local authority - have powers to direct an encampment to move.

“Often, an officer will visit the encampment to ensure the welfare of all involved.”

Gazette: Land - Three horses can also be spotted in the distanceLand - Three horses can also be spotted in the distance (Image: Newsquest)

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 gives police greater powers to tackle encampments.

The Act has created a new offence for England and Wales, and given greater power for police to seize property, including vehicles, where individuals reside on land with a vehicle.

The offence will be committed if a person who resides or intends to reside in a vehicle fails to leave the land or remove their property without reasonable excuse when asked to do so.

The maximum penalty will be three months imprisonment or a fine of up to £2,500, or both.

Speaking previously Witham MP Priti Patel, who was the Home Secretary when the law was passed, said: “No one should have unchecked rights to trespass on other people’s land, or cause misery in communities without consequence.

“The position in law is now very clear – trespassers must move their vehicles when asked to do so, or face jail time and a hefty fine.

“Illegal encampments cause misery for thousands of people. They damage and pollute environments and often result in residents facing unacceptable intimidation on their own doorstep.