DISAPPOINTED children have been unable to play football because of a travellers’ camp on a public park.

Travellers pitched up in Wild Park in Brighton on Thursday evening, leaving children’s football clubs unable to practise ahead of the start of their season next week.

More than 20 vans were on the park by yesterday morning with residents reporting piles of rubbish, litter strewn across the park and human excrement.

The manager of one under sevens’ football team, who asked not to be named, said: “We have been unable to play football at Wild Park for the past two weeks.

“We have 100 kids really disappointed who were expecting practice sessions and who have paid for classes.

“When the seasons starts they will be at a disadvantage because they have been unable to practise.

“It’s such a shame. There have been people riding quad bikes over the pitch so even when they move off we aren’t sure what state it will be in.

“We can’t even get into the park to get to our equipment out to go anywhere else.”

More than a dozen vans are on the park which is covered by a Public Spaces Protection Order specifically prohibiting camping, living in caravans, driving vehicles on the grass, littering, lighting fires, defecating or urinating.

Brighton and Hove City Council said officers have visited the site and seen no damage. The powers introduced in January 2017 to specifically tackle the problem of travellers give council officers the power to order people to move within 12 hours,- however a spokeswoman for the council said they could not order travellers to leave.

She said: “Papers have been lodged for a possession order and we’re working towards an early court hearing. Many of the households are being offered pitches at the council’s transit site and the remainder will be evicted once we have the possession order.

“The pitch has been inspected and there are currently no signs of damage. The first football match booked at this location is at the end of the month though we appreciate the encampment is causing disruption to others wanting to use the recreation space.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and the land will be cleared of any waste once the encampment has left. The park is covered by a PSPO, however that only enables us to issue Fixed Penalty notices, it does not give us powers to remove people from the land. Having visited again this afternoon, several households have left the site already. We’ll be checking again in the morning.”