THE borough council has been accused of neglecting to make sure travellers were prevented from pitching up on the Wootton Bassett Road recreation ground.

Around eight to 10 caravans appeared on the site on Monday evening, along with horses and dogs. After their arrival it was discovered that a padlocked barrier had been moved.

John Olding, who lives nearby, said: “I personally checked the lock at 6.30pm and it was intact.”

But a couple of hours later the travellers were on the field. “Someone has lifted the whole post out of the ground and swung it away with the lock intact,” said Mr Olding.

He told the Advertiser he had been trying to speak to the parks and recreation department but was frustrated by the fact no one was picking up the phone. “I’ve rung the council on the number but it just rings out.”

He demanded to know why the authority did not make it more difficult for the travellers to get onto the land, particularly when the same thing happened last summer.

“Why is it every year these people invade this site and it is never made secure. Why isn’t there something put across that they cannot remove?”

Mr Olding was also concerned about the cost of the clean up.

In the past unauthorised traveller camps in and near Swindon, including Lydiard Park and Shaw Forest have left rubbish including tree cuttings, household waste and even abandoned vehicles.

“I want to know what the last clean ups have cost the ratepayer,” he demanded. “The council, through sheer negligence are allowing it to happen and we pay for the clean up. If it was just a couple of days and they left it clean and tidy you wouldn’t mind.”

Following similar incursions onto land at Shaw Forest Country Park the council announced it would build earth barriers to prevent travellers getting round the security gate.

A Swindon Borough Council Spokesman said: “We locked the gate, but the group somehow managed to gain access. They will be departing on Friday to continue their journey.

“We have a standard procedure in place when dealing with these issues and, although we cannot at this stage say for sure how much the clean-up will cost, it is not expected to be very much.

“In terms of taking further preventative measures for future cases, we have considered adding additional street barriers, but concluded that they would likely clutter up the streets. The lock on the gates is usually sufficient.”

In a statement Wiltshire Police said: "Shortly after 7.30pm on Monday 6 August we received a report that approximately 10 - 20 caravans plus cars had arrived on the Kingshill Rec, Wootton Bassett Road, Swindon.

"It was reported that a lock had been cut at the site to gain access.

"This was a Swindon Borough Council-led incident, so our log was closed that evening as the council were due to speak to them the following evening."

It is the second time within two weeks that travellers have moved onto council-owned land. A group appeared on a park in Tovey Road on July 30 and was expected to stay for a week. The council said the area would be checked when they left.