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A group of travellers gained access to playing fields last night having moved from another site nearby earlier in the day.

Police reinforcements were called at around 4pm to assist bailiffs issuing a notice to a large group of travellers after they moved onto land at Debden House in Debden Green.

Officers were called in to assist with negotiations after the landowner raised concern that the group would not leave willingly.

The travellers, a group with about seven caravans and cars, left the site at around 7pm yesterday.

However, they relocated to the playing fields off Cranleigh Gardens in Loughton at around 7.30pm.

Police confirm it is the same group that were moved from Debden Green earlier in the day and are currently at the site to monitor the situation.

Residents of Cranleigh Gardens, Stan and Eve Young, both 70, said: "We're upset with the police, they wouldn't let the residents down here put a lock on the gate and when someone did it, they took it off and said their hands were tied. We feel very vunerable."

Neighbour Daniel Kent, 37, said: "I'm disgusted in the situation. I had my wife ringing me telling me what was going on. Five caravans went through, the police left and then more travellers arrived 20 minutes later.

"If they can get access to the playing field so easily, whats to stop them coming back in six months, I'm worried this is going to be a reacurring problem unless the police do something."

Loughton Roding ward councillor Stephen Murray, said: “The problem from resident’s point of view is that no one else drives cars on there and they ask the travellers to do the same.

“It’s a busy recreation ground and therefore not suitable for travellers to be on.

“At the moment there doesn’t seem to be any issues, but I expect Loughton Town Council and Epping Forest District Council to put the necessary action to legally remove the group within 24 to 36 hours.”

Cllr Murray said he asked police to block the entrance to the site, which he reports had a broken padlock, with their cars to prevent further access, but police refused.

A police spokeswoman said: “Because the police are not the landowners they cannot block the entrance.

“It would prevent those on the site from vacating and it is the landowner’s responsibility to secure the site.”