Scores of travellers have set up camp on a Skegness car park, putting it out of use and spreading concern among nearby businesses, hotels and residents.
Groups of caravans were seen moving into the Princes Parade car park off South Parade yesterday afternoon and have been arriving steadily ever since.
A concerned hotelier nearby says his guests were not ‘frightened so much as fearful of the amount that had dropped in on us’.
“Their timing is quite perfect - they time their appearance just as the offices are closing and were arriving steadily until gone 11 last night,” he said.
Several pubs were reported to have closed early last night as the travellers’ numbers grew.
They have now taken over the majority of parking spaces with vans, cars and trailers, forcing East Lindsey District Council to close it while legal action is taken to remove them.
Skegness and District Chamber of Commerce chairman Tony Tye had not been alerted to their presence until this afternoon but hopes their stay will be short and uneventful.
“Over the years we’ve had a terrible time trying to move them on - a lot of people still remember the time when the town was virtually closed because of them,” he said.
The district council had already instigated legal action to clear the site when a group of travellers set up camp there last week and is continuing its efforts along those lines.
The council’s chief executive, Stuart Davy, said: “A number of caravans and motor vehicles have parked on the council’s car park and legal proceedings are already underway to regain possession of the land.
“This can only be done through the courts and there is a clear process laid down in law that we have to follow, which does take time.
“The Princes Parade car park is temporarily closed to visitors but there is sufficient space available elsewhere in the resort”.
The Local Government Secretary Eric Pickle recently announced that councils had been given ‘strengthened powers’ to deal with travellers and called upon authorities to take decisive action.
“I want all councils to be ready to take action straightaway to stop illegal camps and unauthorised sites starting in the first place,” he said.
“Decisive action early on saves money and unnecessary upset for local residents.
“We’ve strengthened councils’ powers so they have the confidence to take decisive action.
“Too often, council officers wash their hands, and say nothing can be done.
“This is not the case.
“The public want to see fair play, with planning rules enforced consistently, rather than special treatment being given to certain groups.”
A spokesperson for the district council has dismissed this announcement as ‘nonsense’.
“All Eric Pickles has done it restate the same powers that we already had and have always used to remove travellers,” they said.
“It still takes time to go through the court and nothing has changed in that respect.”
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