GYPSY travellers have returned to Inverclyde and set up an illegal camp on land owned by the district’s largest social housing provider.

Barriers put in place by River Clyde Homes to prevent access to the site at Woodhall have been removed and padlocks have been cut at the perimeter of an area now occupied by a cluster of caravans.

The latest incursion has led to a call from one councillor for a CCTV camera to be put in place to monitor the ground in order to capture footage of any illegal activity — including vandalism, reports the Greenock Telegraph

Councillor Jim MacLeod said: “The full force of the law should be brought to bear.

“If I broke a padlock or removed a barrier to private ground I’d be prosecuted.

“We have a number of static CCTV cameras but where there are hotspot areas we should put in a temporary camera, and that could certainly force the issue regarding monitoring what has been going on.”

Travellers encroached on to the land on Friday and the camp stayed in place over the course of the weekend.

They turned up at the site around the same time last year, then moved across the road to another one after River Clyde Homes launched legal proceedings against them.

At that time the travellers flitted around 200 yards to a business park owned by regeneration body Riverside Inverclyde, leaving council staff to clean up after them. 

Councillor David Wilson — on whose ward the fresh camp currently sits — said: “I think that it is no surprise that they are back.

“Their track record as to how they treat Inverclyde is shocking and the sooner they are moved the better.

“They cause nothing but a mess every time they are here.

“I’m told that they burst padlocks and removed a barrier in order to gain access to the site.

“If this is correct then a criminal offence has been committed.

“It really is disgraceful behaviour.”

Greenock police say they are aware of the unauthorised encampment in Woodhall.

Sergeant Laura Stewart said: “We are working with Inverclyde Council and the landowner River Clyde Homes in liaising with the group in an effort to bring this to a peaceful conclusion.

“Police Scotland will take all necessary action to investigate any criminal matters arising from this encampment.

Jonathan Grant, head of customer services (East) at River Clyde Homes, said: “We are aware of the situation in Woodhall.

“The travellers do not have permission to be on our land and we are co-operating fully with our partners at Police Scotland and Inverclyde Council to resolve the matter, by legal means, as soon as possible.”