MOVING on travellers is never the easiest task, but especially not in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.

Ron Woodley, deputy leader of Southend Council, has spoken of the problems the coronavirus outbreak and strict Government measures have posed in removing unauthorised encampments, as the council aim to move on those currently pitched at the site on Snakes Lane, Eastwood.

He said: “We’re aware they’re there and we’re doing our best to sort this, but it’s difficult for us where Government restrictions mean councils can’t easily move them on.

“With anyone who shows symptoms such as a cough having to be quarantined, it puts us in a difficult position. The situation has put enormous strain and pressure on officers.

“While travellers are there they should make sure they are remaining within the law and acting responsibly.”

St Laurence Ward councillor Daniel Cowan posted on his Facebook page: “Many residents have been in touch with me with regards to an illegal encampment on the field by David Lloyd gym on Snakes Lane. I have been liaising with the community safety portfolio holder and this is being procedurally dealt with.

“Due to Covid-19 there are some challenges around this but it would be irresponsible to share those details publicly. However, I will discuss them with any resident who wishes to contact me directly.

“I have secured agreement that patrols will be made daily and that the council will investigate investing in better locks and height bars to secure our open spaces from illegal occupation and criminal damage.”

Councillor Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: “The Government has issued specific advice to councils and the police during the pandemic on gypsy and traveller issues.

"We are therefore working very closely with Essex Police and responding with them to issues that arise. We will continue to do so whilst keeping up to date with guidance.”