Travellers have set up camp at a new site in Reading after groups were moved on from another site last week.

The group – which currently consists of 11 caravans and other vehicles – have occupied Long Barn Lane Recreation Ground since Wednesday, July 3.

Thames Valley Police (TVP) used section 61 powers to remove groups from John Rabson Recreation Ground on July 3 but groups turned up at the nearby park on the same day.

Steven Smith, a concerned resident, said: “When are these travellers going to get removed from long barn lane park as it is becoming a joke now?

“Also why hasn’t anyone been arrested for criminal damage? I bet if it was us that broke the gate we would be arrested.

“We walk our dog down Long Barn Lane park but can’t while they are there as they shout things at you and intimidate you.”

Councillor Sophia James, lead member for Neighbourhoods, has asked residents to report issues at the recreation ground to 101 ‘to encourage the police to use their S61 powers to move the encampment along’.

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.

A spokesman for the council said: “There are 11 caravans and associated vehicles at the site.

“The legal process has started to move on the illegal encampment but we don’t yet have a date for a court hearing.

“We are liaising with the police and any reports of anti-social behaviour should be directed to the non-emergency number on 101.”

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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.