Group go under police escort yesterday evening.

The horse manure has been scraped to the side of the pitch.The horse manure has been scraped to the side of the pitch.

Travellers who set up camp in Barnstaple's Rock Park have been escorted off the park.

Caravans arrived on Sunday but left yesterday evening (Thursday) under police supervision, according to Barnstaple Town Council.

Town clerk Will Austin said a police escort to the county boundary near Tiverton was necessary to ensure there was no attempt to set up elsewhere in the town.

"The timing was in some ways fortunate as the High Sheriff's enforcement officer was due to attend this morning (Friday) at 9am to evict the group, forcibly if necessary," he said.

Remnants of a campfire at the edge of the football pitch.Remnants of a campfire at the edge of the football pitch.

"The cost of this action has been avoided. It may be that the travellers - whom I understand had said they would stay until Sunday and possibly then to relocate to another site in Barnstaple - were aware of this intended action and moved on voluntarily to avoid the spectacle of a forced eviction."

On Wednesday, the council obtained a county court a possession order giving it the right to take immediate possession of the land from the group.

Council contractors were at the scene this morning clearing up after the group.

Mr Austin said: "The park has this morning been cleared of litter and other items left by the travellers. The adjacent football pitch has been cleared of horse faeces and the grass cut.

"Some further work is required, including the assessment of damage to the trees, but the area of the park occupied by the travellers is now available for the public to use.

"I am very sorry for any inconvenience caused to visitors to the park during the encampment, although I do hope people will recognise that we acted as quickly as possible to restore the park to full use."

Mr Austin said police and other agencies would meet to see what actions could be taken to reduce the risk for similar unauthorised encampments in the town.

"This was a completely unacceptable action on the part of these travellers. We understand their desire for a place to stay, but Rock Park should not have been that place.

"The group's presence caused significant disruption to legitimate users of the park, and I have been contacted by many local people who felt both intimated and incensed.

"We hope that the prompt action taken sends a clear message that the community of Barnstaple will not tolerate such behaviour in Rock Park.

"A 'toleration site' is provided for use by travellers in Seven Brethren, and that fact that this was in use by the travelling Showmen's Guild - who pay rent for the privilege - does not justify the unauthorised use of a public park by the this group of travellers".

He added: "I would like to be clear that, contrary to statements that I have seen online, this group of travellers had no connection whatsoever with the Showmen's Guild, who have been in Barnstaple this week providing the spectacular funfair.

"We welcome the Guild and the huge effort they put into making to Barnstaple Fair such a success each year."

Are you one of those who is camping at Rock Park? We would like to hear from you and tell your side of the story.

If you want to get in touch, email us at newsdesk@northdevongazette.co.uk or call 01271 345056.