TRAVELLERS have set up home next to a Witney play area, and are allegedly using the site as a 'public toilet.'

A group of at least 10 caravans has moved into Ralegh Crescent on the Deer Park estate, and a councillor claims he has seen used toilet paper dumped near the trees that border the park.

The caravans arrived late on Monday afternoon, on land near West Witney Primary School, following reports of travellers on the Church Green in Witney earlier that day.

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Oxford Mail:

Witney town councillor Jim King, who lives in the area, said: "Deer Park has lots of wooded copses all around it, and they are using that as a public toilet - and I'm not just talking about having a wee.

"I walked up the path by the playground and there's piles of toilet paper all over the place, with human excrement on.

"Big black rubbish bags are also starting to pile up.

"Kids [who live here] play in those little copses - it's a health hazard."

There are also reports of a separate group of travellers outside the entrance to Great Western Park in Didcot, who also moved in this week.

READ ALSO: Travellers 'take over' in Didcot's Great Western Park estate

Mr King said police and Oxfordshire County Council officers have attended the encampment in Witney, but he predicted that the group will not move on until an official court order is issued.

A county council spokesman said the group have expressed intention to leave on Sunday, adding: "We attended the site yesterday and served landowners' and code of conduct notices, as is normal in this situation."

The councillor said travellers had long-been an issue in nearby Valence Crescent, and the district council dug a 'revetment' around the field to deter them.

He added: "We were convinced that if we stopped them coming there, they would come and find Ralegh Crescent, so they also dug a revetment there."

Oxford Mail:

However, he said space was left to allow grass cutting equipment to get through, and that appears to be how the travellers gained access.

Mr King said: "According to people in the area, they tried to get through [the revetment] but obviously the caravans couldn't."

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He said the current lengthy process for evicting travellers was a 'waste of paperwork.'

The councillor added: "What normally happens is that police come and give a warning, council officers turn up and give a warning, and they totally ignore it."

Another resident who lives in the area, who asked not to be named, said he saw at least 20 caravans yesterday.

He said he was 'appalled' by their proximity next to a children's play area, adding: "There is already rubbish accumulating with anti social activity, drinking and swearing."

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West Oxfordshire District Council owns the land, and a spokeswoman said: "Oxfordshire County Council manage traveller issues on our behalf.

"We are working with their Gypsy and Traveller Services team to resolve the situation as swiftly as possible."

In February the home secretary announced more powers to allow tackle illegal traveller sites, following consultation about enforcement measures last year.

The proposal will allow police to direct travellers to legal traveller sites in neighbouring authorities, rather than just the immediate area.

It would also increase the time period trespassers are unable to return to the land after eviction, and drop the threshold for intervention from six caravans to two.