MORE misery could yet again be heaped on the cash-strapped council after a group of travellers who caused disruption in Reading last week returned to Coley Park.

Ten caravans occupied Prospect Park from Saturday, October 22, and after being moved on by the authorities, the council was forced to spend £24,700 to prevent the invaders returning.

The large sum of money spent to install fences, lockable height barriers and metal posts will hit a nerve with those upset at the decision to close Arthur Hill Pool.

The travellers' occupation of public land has already drawn criticism from Reading West MP, Alok Sharma, who has been liaising with the police over the issues.

Despite agreeing the community has to live somewhere, Mr Sharma wants a “substantive answer” from the Reading Council regarding what action would be taken.

Elsewhere, two mobile homes are currently occupying a car park in Woodley in Lytham Road, behind the NatWest bank and just yards from the shopping precinct.

Reading East MP, Rob Wilson, pointed out the law was there to tackle unauthoritised travellers' sites.

He said: “The government has been clear about the enforcement action available to the police and local councils when dealing with unauthorised encampments,” he said.

“Having spoken this week with councillors in Woodley, I understand that Wokingham Borough Council is active in taking the necessary action to utilise these powers.”

Upset shoppers were not slow to voice their opinions.

“It’s a joke,” said resident Chris Saunders. “In my job if I need a pay and display bay, I have to pay £36 a day. Why should they be treated any differently?”

Paralysed and unable to help, Woodley Town Council confirmed that despite being aware of the occupation of the 12-bay car park, the issue lies with the borough council. “We’ve started legal action to move them on,” explained a Wokingham Council spokeswoman.

Thames Valley Police confirmed they are aware of the ongoing issue but their action is dependent on landowners to file an order to move the travellers on.

“We are making checks and engaging with those on the site, as well as liaising with the wider community and the council,” a spokesman for the force said. We are monitoring the situation and if there are cases of criminal activity then we will step in.”

When approached by a reporter from the Reading Chronicle at the site in Lytham Road, the travellers declined to comment.