Travellers have set up camp at John Rabson Recreation Ground in south Reading.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) has started the legal process for eviction and are in discussions with the police.

A spokesman for the council said that four caravans arrived on Friday, and there are now up to 15 associated vehicles.

The council says – ‘in its experience’ – the process to remove travellers can take up to three weeks.
One resident, Dave Soper, reported on twitter that there were 30 to 40 caravans at the council-owned play area this morning (Tuesday, July 2).

He said: “Local people feel intimidated and don’t deserve this continuous intrusion.”

Mr Soper said: “I think most people will feel this is a pretty pathetic process. Three weeks is far too long.

“A court order and 24hr removal is what local residents want.”

Councillor Ashley Pearce responded: “I agree. I would like the process to be much quicker but am doing all I can with the powers that currently exist."

Cllr Pearce and councillor Sophia James, lead member for Neighbourhoods, called for locals to contact councillors and the police with any incidents.

To evict travellers, the council must:

  • Show that travellers on land without consent
  • Make enquiries regarding general health, welfare and children’s education
  • Ensure the Human Rights Act has been fully complied with
  • Provide travellers with the ability to dispose of their waste and provide them with a code of conduct sheet

The police have discretionary section 61 powers to remove unauthorised encampments, which they decide based on guidance such as whether there is a danger to life or disruption to the local economy.

The amount the council has spent on tackling unauthorised encampments in Reading has risen by 450 per cent in the last five years.

This has risen partly due to a six-figure investment into defensive measures to keep out travellers.

However, clean ups have been the biggest expense over the five years, with more than £170,000 spent on clearing land following encampments.

The figures were revealed through a Freedom of Information (FOI ) request earlier this year.

The government is currently considering measures to make it easier for police to remove illegal encampments.