RESIDENTS of Puddletown are ‘sickened’ by the rubbish and mess left by a group of travellers camping in the area.

Around 25 caravans were camped in a field near the village for more than a week, some of which had been evicted from Duchy of Cornwall land in Poundbury.

Over the weekend 10 of the caravans moved into a public layby in Puddletown and the rest left the area.

Mark Edgecombe, of Words-ford Farms which manages the field, said: “There’s certainly lots of mess – they moved in a couple of weeks back when the weather was nice and then got stuck and had to be towed out after all the rain.

“We have tried to keep at a distance to avoid things turning nasty but we were almost at the point of having to hire bailiffs to come and move them on.

“You can’t even drive into the field now, it’s so churned up, and there’s quite a lot of rubbish left behind as well.”

Mike Crankshaw, Puddletown resident and former parish councillor, said: “They have turned the field into an absolute quagmire and made a real mess of it.

“I’ve had a few calls from people wanting to take action but we have all learned our lesson in the past and if you get involved with them you will find trouble.

“We would like them shifted as soon as possible – I’ve had a few phone calls from people saying they have been causing problems.”

He added: “A few years ago they got into the recreation ground and really made a mess of the children’s play area.

“Last year they were here for eight or nine months and they made an absolute mess.

“We’re sick of this and it’s sickening that they have such a lack of respect.”

Mr Crankshaw said travellers and gypsies came to the area at this time every year.

He said: “They are always down here before the Great Dorset Steam Fair and sometimes they stick around a bit longer but hopefully they won’t this time.

“It’s just the fact that it’s such a mess and they don’t care.”

Stephen Buck, chairman of the parish council, said: “The travellers or gypsies were on a field near the bypass and the amount of rubbish they’ve left is amazing.

“Last year we had travellers in the area and there were fights during the carnival.

“Water was taken from the recreation ground which is metered and paid for by the taxpayers of Puddletown.

“We’re conscious that the Olympic torch is coming in July and we want the village to look its best.”

He added: “We don’t have to have these people here and we would rather not.

“I think they should respect the people they decide to come and live near.”

Council reaction

A spokesman for Dorset County Council said: “We are aware there was a group of traveller caravans parked in the field and they have now moved from there.

“The farmer helped tow them out because they got waterlogged.

“Ten of them have gone to the public weighbridge layby.

“They will only be there for a day of two before they find something more permanent – they’re quite a large family group and are trying to find somewhere with enough space.”

Dorchester Inspector Les Fry said: “They are not causing any trouble and I’m not aware that we have had any complaints.”