Local residents have voiced their exasperation after travellers returned to the Veracity Recreation Ground site in Sholing for the fifth time in four months.
The Recreation Ground is part of the Park Lives group, which aims to provide free physical activities to local communities around the UK. There is a children’s play area on the site, which is used by many local youth football clubs as well as for skateboarding, tennis and football.
Much of these facilities have now had their access limited after travellers returned to the site on Spring Road for the fifth time since April this year. Conservative MP for Southampton Itchen Royston Smith commented that, ‘[e]very time these illegal incursions happen the taxpayer is left out of pocket‘. According to a Freedom of Information request submitted to Brighton and Hove City Council in 2011, the enforced removal of travellers from a site can cost in excess of £500.
According to the Southampton City Council in 2017, in the event of a traveller encampment on council land, Council authorities will visit the site to conduct a welfare check before considering whether the individuals should be moved on. But it is the perceived delay in taking action which has caused Sholing residents to express their anger. Councillor Eamonn Keogh acknowledged this, saying, ‘I know local residents have had enough and feel considerable frustration and upset that we as a council have allowed this to happen again‘.
Whilst the Council has begun installing permanent measures to ‘protect the Veracity Ground from illegal encampments in the future’, civic chiefs have again ordered the travellers to leave the public site immediately.
Despite the imposition of temporary concrete blocks designed to ‘prevent further access‘ to the site, caravans are still on the field popular among locals.