A LARGE traveller encampment has been served notice to leave after setting up on a playing field in Great Saling.

At least six caravans moved onto the playing field, in Pincotts Lane, on Wednesday evening at around 8pm.

The land is owned by Braintree Council, who lease the green space to Great Saling Parish Council.

Travellers moved onto the same site in April.

Diane Greenwood, chairman of the parish council, said: “We were in a meeting at the village hall when they turned up.

“It is very sad because after last year the parish council arranged for bollards to be put up around the field to prevent access.

“We are waiting to hear back from the various authorities to see what can be done.

“We are devastated as it is one of the only facilities we have for the public in the village.

“With the summer holidays coming up we get lots of kids using the play equipment and families come here to use it but at the moment it is a no go zone.

“We are a small parish and we don’t get much in the way of funds but we invested some in measures to protect the area but unfortunately it did not work.”

Witnesses said another 14 caravans arrived on Thursday evening.

A Braintree Council spokesperson said: “We’re aware of caravans and vehicles on a playing field in Great Saling on land owned by us.

"The Essex County Traveller Unit is working on our behalf to move the Travellers from our land through the appropriate legal processes.”

It is believed that the traveller unit served the group notice on Friday morning.

In the past three weeks travellers have occupied land in Stisted, Witham, High Garrett, Braintree, Stisted again and Great Saling.