‘Off, off, off!’: Villagers order travellers off their sports field in extraordinary stand off as police threaten protesters with dogs

This is the dramatic moment that hundreds of furious locals confronted travellers who had pitched up in a community park.

Police are shown forming a barrier between the two sides as residents chant ‘off, off, off’ at the travellers, who had set up their mobile homes on a recreation ground.

A mass protest was organised after the caravans arrived at the field, having been forced off another park about two miles away in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

Some members of the 200-strong group of protesters – which includes several children – were seen arguing with police as officers try to diffuse the situation.

In one heated exchange, a man can be heard saying: ‘How can you use dogs against a people’s protest?’

Avon & Somerset Police were forced to escort the travellers off the site by convoy, after issuing a dispersal order which allows them to stop people from protesting

Hundreds of furious locals confronted travellers (pictured) who had pitched up in a community park

A police officer is then heard to reply: ‘If you do not leave the field you will be arrested.’

No-one was injured in the clash, but protesters were horrified to be told police dogs could be set on them if they did not abide by the disposal order.

One man says: ‘General members of the public are being kicked off a public field and being threatened with dogs if they don’t go, so gypsies can stay on the field.

‘The public have to leave or the dogs will be set upon us, or we will be bitten by the dogs.’

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A police officer told him: ‘Not bitten but they will be used to get them out.’

The man added: ‘Surely it would be easier to get rid of 20 of them than 400 of us.’

Avon & Somerset Police were forced to escort the travellers off the site by convoy, after issuing a dispersal order which allows them to stop people from protesting.

Roadblocks were put in place in the streets neighbouring Baytree Recreation Ground as tensions grew during the evening.

Protesters were horrified to be told police dogs (shown right) could be set on them if they did not abide by the disposal order

Tony Hopton, who organized a peaceful protest, stands next to a mobile home which was left behind by the group of travellers

A mass protest was organised after the caravans arrived at the field, having been forced off another park about two miles away in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset

The grounds are regularly used by the Weston Crusaders Junior Football Club and other sports teams.

The same group of travellers had been ordered to leave nearby Clarence Park on Wednesday, but instead of leaving the town they moved into another park.

North Somerset Council was due in court this week to apply for an eviction order following repeat offences by the same group of travellers.

Andrew Blackmore, vice-chairman of the Weston Crusaders, told the Bristol Post that more than £3,000 worth of damage had been caused by the travellers.

He said that handbrake turns had ripped up the pitch, while a bonfire had scorched the earth, leaving one football pitch ‘unplayable’.

Families arrived at Baytree Recreational Ground in Weston-super-Mare to protest after a group of around 20 travellers pitched up at the site 

The same group of travellers had been ordered to leave nearby Clarence Park on Wednesday, but instead of leaving the town they moved into the recreation ground

Mr Blackmore told the newspaper: ‘We are coming up to the start of the season and the damage is mostly down to the stupidity of those driving transit vans and creating ?doughnuts? around the football pitch.

‘Because most of them are in the middle of the field, all the pitches are now unplayable.

The entire Baytree Rec is completely ruined. We are assessing the damage at the moment, but we?ve been given an estimate of about £3,000 worth of damage.’

A spokeswoman for Avon & Somerset Police said the travellers were escorted out of the town late last night and that no arrests were made during either incident.

She added: ‘A protest against a traveller encampment on the recreation ground attracted more than 200 people on Sunday, August 20. 

This was the moment travellers and townspeople clashed in a sports ground as police with dogs patrolled the tense protest

A damaged caravan left by travellers who were escorted off Baytree Recreational Ground late last night

‘Police closed Milton Road and Baytree Road just after 8pm due to the number of people and vehicles at the protest.

‘It’s understood North Somerset Council has already served notice on the travellers to leave the site and that the council is due in court this week to seek an eviction order.

‘A number of officers, including police dog units, are at the scene in order to prevent a breach of the peace.

‘Despite the numbers the protest has remained peaceful and the protesters are now beginning to leave.

‘A dispersal notice has been put in place giving officers powers to direct any further protesters to leave the area and not return.’

The scene today after travellers and their mobile homes were escorted off Baytree Recreational ground by police after locals residents organized a protest

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