Enforcement officers called off as encampment vacates Rock Park.

Travellers who set up camp in Barnstaple's Rock Park have left the park following the threat of legal action by Barnstaple Town Council.

The group, who arrived on Wednesday evening and initially told council officials they had no intention of moving, left the park at around 4pm yesterday (Thursday).

Town clerk Will Austin said the group was warned that enforcement officers were due to evict the encampment at 10am today.

He said: "The threat of enforced eviction prompted the group's departure.

"I understand that some have moved to the 'toleration site' run by North Devon Council, but that some have set up camp on private land nearby.

"This is deplorable, and the police have been informed. I will be advising the landowner of the action we have taken so that similar measures can be adopted if needed."

Mr Austin said the travellers had left a 'significant' amount of rubbish that would be cleared by the council today.

"Again, this is despicable behaviour," he said.

"The law as it stands makes it virtually impossible to recover the cost of the clearance from the travellers unless we have an address for each of them, and naturally this information is almost impossible to ascertain given their nomadic lifestyle.

"I will be writing to the appropriate Government minister to point out this weakness in the community's rights, and the impact on the local taxpayer."

He said that the council was relieved to have restored the whole of Rock Park for public use, fewer than 24 hours after the encampment was set up.

"The community can now look forward to the annual Picnic in the Park event on Sunday proceeding without worrying about the effect of an illegal incursion into Rock Park," he added.