LOCALS in an upmarket seaside town are up in arms after travellersset up on the picturesque seafront – ruining the view.
Residents of the repurposed Eastney Barracks in Portsmouth, Hampshire, claim that the group has committed "criminal damage" and have spoiled their panoramic views of the Isle of Wight.
Caravans stand along the Eastney Esplanade in the swanky area by the Royal Marines Museum, where the flats cost an average of £499,000.
They parked on an area owned by The Grand Hotel Excelsior International Ltd.
One resident fumed at the time: "They’re committing criminal damage.
"The gate to that area is locked with a padlock so they would have had to break it to get in.
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"It’s a long process to get them evicted from the site, because it’s private land owned by a hotel group that planned on renovating the museum building.
"Travellers have set up on the common and on Eastern Road before, and there had to be an excavator brought in to clear up because they left so much mess."
His wife added that the group are "unwelcome" in the neighbourhood and "don't add" to the view.
She added: "It’s private property – go to a proper travellers site instead. There’s no room here. We pay top whack council tax here."
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An elderly neighbour who leases a flat overlooking the sea described the travellers' arrival as "worrying".
However, he has some sympathy for them, saying: "I do feel for them, they have no permanent land. It’s a UK-wide problem.
"But where they are, it’s breaking the law. They always cause a lot of mess, and they don’t clear up after themselves – so whoever owns the land has to spend a lot of money doing it. I’m concerned."
Two young men who are part of the traveller group defended their presence.
One said: "We’re not bothering anyone, we’re not doing any harm by being here.
"We always clean up after ourselves."
A spokesperson for Portsmouth City Council said: "Portsmouth City Council is aware of an encampment along Eastney Esplanade and have informed the landowners."
Hampshire Police later confirmed that the encampment has since been moved on and that no crimes were reported during their time there.
A spokesperson for the force said that they were removed today under public order legislation as officers felt the camp was "likely to cause significant damage, disruption or distress to the community."
They added: "Decisions such as these are carefully considered, and these powers were used today as a result of disruption that was being caused to the community in this area.
"In circumstances where we utilise such powers, we will always ensure that we balance the needs and rights of all our communities with actions that are proportionate, lawful and necessary."
When travellers park on public land, the local authority has the legal power to evict them.
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However, in the event of them parking on private land, that responsibility falls on whoever owns the land.
Romany and Irish travellers are also protected in law from racial discrimination under the Equality Act.
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