TRAVELLERS have set up camp on a playing field next to Waterside Farm Leisure Centre.

Families and residents looked on as caravans, cars and 4x4s pulled onto council land off of Somnes Avenue, Canvey.

Traffic was held up as the travellers crossed onto the field directly from the road on Tuesday evening.

The encampment remained yesterday as the authorities took action to get the camp moved on.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We were called at around 6pm on Tuesday with reports of an unauthorised encampment in Somnes Avenue, Canvey.

“We received reports that 16 caravans and 14 vehicles were parked at Waterside Farm Leisure Centre.

“We are liaising with the encampment and Castle Point Council and we continue to monitor the situation.”

Officers from the police’s Gypsy, Traveller and Rural Engagement Team visited the site throughout the day yesterday.

Castle Point Council confirmed they were working with police to remove the encampment and have served a notice for them to go by noon tomorrow.

Rebecca Harris, Castle Point MP, said: “Following contact from residents, I have been in contact with Essex County Council urging them to take swift action and their traveller unit confirmed they would be issuing a ‘direction to leave’ notice.

“They are on Castle Point Council land and I confirmed with them they do not have permission to be there.”

It is thought the travellers are the same ones removed from land near Blackshots Leisure Centre in Grays, Thurrock, yesterday afternoon.

Residents told how traffic came to a total standstill when they unexpectedly arrived.

Sally Shipman said: “Somnes Avenue had gridlocked when they were coming onto the field.

“A lot of the vehicles with the caravans were just cutting across the middle of the road straight onto the field.

“There was no consideration for other cars on the road.”

James Roose said: “Whatever people’s opinions are on the travelling community, they shouldn’t be on that land.

“It’s illegal.”

A direction to leave order has been issued.