Tackling illegal travellers has become a top priority for North East Lincolnshire Council bosses after a group gained access to a Grimsby stadium at the weekend.
The travellers were reported to have set up shop on the playing fields at King George V Stadium after removing a bollard installed to stop them from doing so.
The council had spent £15,000 setting up the security measures – which they reportedly bypassed with a set of bolt cutters, removing padlocks holding the bollards in the ground.
North East Lincolnshire Council leader Councillor Phillip Jackson told Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Jaines: “It’s totally unacceptable that these illegal encampments are set up because it upsets a lot of people.
“They’re trespassing on council land, and we then have the cost in providing for them and cleaning up the mess after they leave.”
He said the current arrangement at King George was “totally unsatisfactory” and the authority would be making sure security measures were improved.
Local authorities are legally obliged to provide a site and stopping places in their areas for travellers. It is also part of North East Lincolnshire’s Local Plan.
Councillor Jackson criticised the previous administration for “kicking the can down the road” after they spent a number of years looking for a site, but didn’t make a decision before they were booted out in May’s election.
Providing a stopping place would give the authority, and police greater legal measures to tackle illegal encampments cropping up.
Councillor Jackson promised the issue was “top of the list of the current administration to make sure we look at finding a suitable site so we can stop these illegal encampments in the future.”
He added: “I can guarantee it won’t be another five years. We’re revisiting previous sites which were considered in some detail by officers and elected members through the scrutiny process.
“There’s some degree of urgency on this, it is a legal requirement, its in our local plan, we need to make progress.”
A spokesman for North East Lincolnshire Council said the travellers have since moved on, but could not confirm if security measures had yet been replaced.
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