Police were locked in a standoff with travellers after a “violent” convoy forced their way into a council-owned playing field last night.

Nearly 30 motorhomes and caravans “held a road to ransom” as they made light work of a height barrier and padlocked gate blocking entry to the field in Chingford.

Residents were left helpless as the travellers held up traffic in Sewardstone Road at around 9.30pm last night.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

Police gave them until tomorrow to clear off

Speaking today, a 71-year-old man, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, said they were threatening people with violence as they wrestled with the gate.

He said: “They threatened to put my teeth down my throat and break my neck.

“People were unprotected for two hours in the face of a violent situation.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

Officers never used their bolt cutters 

“But police did not respond until after 11pm.

“By that time it was too late.”

The elderly resident also said the council previously removed concrete barriers on the ground, allowing easier access for travellers to get in.

A barrier restricting tall vehicles from getting through the gate was “removed with ease” leaving a padlock and chain wide open for bolt cutters.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

No concrete bollards stood in their way

The resident added: “The taxpayers paid huge legal bills last time they were here and it’s going to be the same now.

“I phoned the out-of-hours number at the council all last night but no one picked up.”

This afternoon police and council officers were locked in a standoff with the travellers, who barricaded themselves in after them.

They began negotiating with the men through the gate and although some officers were armed with bolt cutters, they were never used.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

Over 30 motorhomes and caravans have set up shop

At one point, a woman brushed past the officers to hand the group of men behind the gate a delivery of food from the McDonald’s up the road.

Six policemen and two neighbourhood officers from the council were present, but they only served the travellers a section 61 notice, under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

From the Motorpoint car dealership which backs onto the playing fields, the makeshift camp was seen clustered around the perimeter of the field, used by children to play rugby.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

The view from Chingford Motorpoint

Councillor Sharon Waldron, who leads community safety and cohesion, said the council was "aware" of the situation.

She added: "We are working with the police to evict them and a Section 61 notice was served earlier today requiring them to vacate the land by July 14.

"We are reviewing the security of the site and will be amending it as needed.”

Scotland Yard confirmed they were called to reports of a group of travellers gaining access to council-owned land.

A Met spokesman said no arrests have been made.