TRAVELLERS have moved into the grounds of Lydiard Park – and could stay for a c ouple of weeks.
The family of travellers moved onto the fields close to Hook Street on Saturday morning and say they are staying temporarily while they attend a family funeral in the area.
Users of the park have complained they have been either displaced or are unable to walk their dogs in the area.
Police and Swindon Council are monitoring the situation to see if any action is necessary.
A member of staff at Lydiard Park, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “They turned up at about midnight on Friday night, and they have set up seven vans at the far end of the field.
“Members of the public have come up to us already, saying they can’t go walking their dogs over there because all the travellers’ dogs are running loose.
“One lady has come over to speak to us to say that one of the vans has been spinning round in the field churning it up.”
The park staff member added: “It’s a tricky situation because this is public land, so it is down to Swindon Council what to do about it.
“Apparently they were evicted from another site just down the road the night before, so they have come down here.
“We get a lot of people up there walking their dogs and playing with their kids, and that whole area is pretty much out of bounds now.”
Belinda Dowding had rented a spot on the fields for the weekend but found her family displaced by the group.
“That was supposed to be our spot when we got here but obviously we couldn’t use it,” she said. “Lydiard Park have been very accommodating and very very kind to allow us a new spot.
“There was supposed to be a hot-air balloon launch today but that has had to be cancelled now as well.”
The travellers said they were in the area for a family funeral. “We will only be here for a few days and two weeks at the most,” said one of the group, who refused to give his name.
“We get tracked around everywhere like pigs anyway.”
Coun Cindy Matthews (Lab, Lydiard and Freshbrook) said: “This is the first time this has happened during my time as councillor. The police have got new powers and will give them three days before they go and assess the situation. The park warden has been aware and has received a number of complaints.
“Police have been to the site, and if it continues we will have to see what needs to be done working with them.”
Sgt Barry Reed, duty inspector for Swindon, said: “If we were to take any action we would need a complaint from the landowner, which in this case is the council.
“They would have to serve notice on the travellers, and for us to do anything about it we would have to be satisfied there are issues regarding noise, the number of vehicles, or any damage to property taking place.
“We will be monitoring the situation and working alongside the council to see what action if any would need to be taken.”