SOUTHEND Council have warned an unauthorised encampment of travellers in Shoebury could take up to two weeks to evict.

Yesterday, the 17 caravan-strong convoy settled into their new home on the green at St Mary The Virgin Parish Church, near to Asda, in Shoebury.

Although legal proceedings have been launched, due to the fact civil courts are usually closed at weekends and bank holidays, it's expected the eviction process could take up to two weeks to complete.

A council spokesperson said: "We are aware that a group of travellers are camping on council land in Shoeburyness without our permission. Some wooden bollards that surround the site, had been removed.

"Yesterday (Thursday 23 May), and within one hour of them accessing the site, council officers had started the legal process to evict them, by issuing section 77 notices asking them to leave. We are following the due legal process as set out in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

"Whilst we understand the frustration of residents and businesses in the local area, the law and due process has to be followed and that is exactly what we are doing."

Landowners who want to evict unauthorised campers have to comply with the law, following the typical process for eviction through the civil courts. This includes the landowner informing the travellers of his or her intention to seek legal help to remove them; the landowner applies for a court hearing date, the group are given a minimum of two days' notice of the hearing date and the landowner obtaining an eviction order from the court.

These orders are usually served on the group on the same day and eviction normally takes place within a few days.

Meanwhile, Southend Council has released a picture of a damaged padlock, which was part of a height restriction barrier at Southchurch Park East. Council officers found this yesterday when they were checking various sites.

Southend Standard:

A spokesman claimed the locks, which are anti-bolt cutting, had been angle ground to break.

Whilst there was no encampment at Southchurch Park East, Southend Council will have to replace any locks which have been cut and/or removed.

It is understood Essex Police and the traveller unit are also monitoring the site and have the power to issue emergency section 61 notices if they believe necessary and proportionate.

You can read more on the police response to unauthorised encampments here: