FRUSTRATED residents have called for more to be done to prevent illegal encampments in the county as travellers continue to flout a notice to leave an Abingdon football pitch.

Oxfordshire County Council initially warned the fleet of around 20 vehicles to vacate Barrows Hill, off Audlett Drive, by midday on Thursday but this was ignored and an eviction notice, which can be enforced by police, is not due to go before Oxford Magistrates' Court until Monday.

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Len Lambe, 78, who lives near the site, said: “They often turn up here and seem to make their way around quite a few sites locally. They know how long they can push things and nothing seems to change."

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His son Adrian Lambe, 51, added: “It’s probably been going on for around 10 years now at the Barrows Hill site. It’s not every year but they keep coming back. It isn't that people are necessarily against them coming but they leave grass churned up and rubbish which ruins the relationship with residents."

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A notice to leave from May last year is still posted at the football field from when travellers trespassed in 2018.

A county council spokesperson last week said: “We were notified late on Thursday, March 28, of the arrival of a group of travellers at the football pitch off Audlett Drive. They were visited by our Gypsy and Traveller service on March 29 and issued with the formal notice that they were trespassing and issued with the council code of conduct.

"Welfare and health checks were completed. On April 2 they were served with a direction to leave by 12pm on Thursday, April 4.

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"The travellers have not complied with the direction to leave so we are seeking an eviction order at Oxford Magistrates’ Court. We are continuing to make regular visits.”

Residents in Grove had stated on social media they believed the travellers had moved on to land off Denchworth Road near the skatepark on Friday.

A council spokesperson confirmed its Gypsy and Traveller Services team had been informed of two caravans in Grove.

They added: "They are off Denchworth Road, by an electrical substation. It is private land owned by Persimmon Homes."

They also confirmed the traveller encampment at the Abingdon football pitch was still in place as of yesterday.

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With the county frequently plagued by similar cases, plans by the Government to increase powers to deal with the issue were welcomed by Thames Valley Police this week.

The number of vehicles needed to be classed as an illegal encampment will be lowered from six or more to two or more, according to a report due to be presented by Thames Valley Police and Crime Panel on Friday.

The plans also include increasing the length of time that trespassers are unable to return to a section of land once they have been moved on.

Read the full powers planned for police here

Abingdon and Oxford West MP Layla Moran responding to the plans said: “In light of the results of the Government’s consultation on traveller encampments, it’s clear that more needs to be done – legal encampments must be created in order to prevent all communities being disturbed.”

She added: “Residents have rightly raised concerns about travellers in the local area, however these new powers are only reactive and not at all proactive. We need a long term solution.”