TEST Valley community leaders have heavily criticised a group of travellers who parked up on a recreation ground.

Hampshire police were alerted to the unauthorised encampment on Friday, June 26, after caravans arrived at Nursling Recreation Ground, Nursling Street.

The travellers were spotted at 8.55pm and it is believed they may have used chain saws to cut posts placed around the green space.

This comes after Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) issued an application for a High Court injunction, which could prohibit the set-up of unauthorised traveller encampments across the borough.

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Now councillors are calling for a "change in the law", which would "make it illegal to trespass with a vehicle".

Cllr Phil Bundy, who represents Chilworth, Nursling & Rownhams on the borough council, said: "On Friday night a number of residents found the caravans and the police arrived half an hour later.

"We have got fencing around the Nursling & Rownhams Village Hall and they used chain saws to cut through the posts to gain access to the site.

"We have had a considerable number of residents complain about this and we are exploring ways to achieve a change in the law to make it illegal to trespass with a vehicle.

"This would make it a criminal offence, because at the moment it is a civil offence, and would enable the police to do something."

Romsey Advertiser: Cllr Phil Bundy Cllr Phil Bundy

He added: "The police have done what they can do within the confines of the law."

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Deputy leader of TVBC, cllr Nick Adams-King, said: "It is really frustrating we are unable to get travellers to move on as quickly as we would like."

He claimed the travellers have "clearly caused damage to gain access to the site and while they are staying there".

Mr Adams-King added: "If we are successful with the injunction and if this continues in the southern part of the borough we may have to extend the area the injunction covers."

Romsey Advertiser: Cllr Nick Adams-KingCllr Nick Adams-King

Cllr Alison Finlay, who represents Chilworth, Nursling & Rownhams on the borough council, said: "I think a change in the law would be necessary to make it illegal to camp on land."

She added: "In my experience, travellers leave a lot of rubbish and bodily fluids."

A spokesperson from Hampshire police said: "I can confirm we were notified about the encampment at 8.55pm on Friday 26 June.

"We are aware of a unauthorised encampment at Nursling Recreation Ground and are working with the landowner to seek a suitable resolution.”