OXFORDSHIRE County Council is facing heavy criticism from residents for failing to act on warnings that a west Oxford park was vulnerable to travellers.

Around six caravans invaded Oatlands Road Recreation Ground in November setting up camp for more than two weeks.

When the group did move on in December the area was left covered in waste, with litter, plastic furniture and gas cannisters strewn over the grassland.

Oxford county councillor for Jericho & Osney, Susanna Pressel, has now hit out at the local authority having passed on feedback from residents in July asking the council to install more bollards to fill in gaps around the perimeter.

The residents warned a gap left by a felled willow tree coupled with recent re-surfacing work at an adjacent carpark had left an easy route onto the field - a route they claim was even used by council vehicles to get onto the grass to carry out work.

It is now believed the travellers got on to the grounds by pulling out the bollards by the small carpark on Ferry Hinksey Road.

However Ms Pressel, who sits on both county and city councils, said: “Oxfordshire County Council officers claim that the travellers would have got in by uprooting bollards even if they had filled in all the gaps when asked to do so.

“This may be the case – we’ll never know – but I suspect that if the gap had not been there, they wouldn’t have considered that site; they would have gone elsewhere.

“The county and city councils are now discussing how best to make the site secure for the future, probably with some kind of fence.

“According to the very experienced Gypsy and Traveller Service of the County Council, it is apparently very unlikely that anyone will trespass over the next few weeks, so we should have some time to complete the work.”

Though the site is shared by Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council, the area where the travellers gained access is owned by the county council.

In a joint statement, Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council said: "Oxford City Council is currently working with the county council with a view to installing additional fencing and bollards in the new year.

"A site inspection revealed that the travellers gained access to the field by removing a bollard, not via the area where the tree had been felled.

"Subsequently a few other bollards were removed by the travellers when the track they had created became too muddy and rutted by vehicles."