A GROUP of 'abusive' travellers have been removed from the grounds of a council-owned sports hub in Andover.

The travellers set up an encampment on the athletics track at Charlton Sports Centre late Friday evening after failing to breach the open space at Saxon Fields.

Around six caravans could be seen parked up on the newly refurbished track the next morning.

This isn't the first time travellers have targeted the site, either. Damage was caused to the track several years ago after a number of caravans pitched up at the facility.

However, legal chiefs at Test Valley Borough Council were quick to act and a joint operation with Hampshire Police led to the travellers being removed on Saturday afternoon - less than 24 hours after they arrived.

Councillor Phil North said: "I'd like to say a huge thank you to Hampshire Constabulary for using their Section 61 powers to remove a group of travellers that gained access to the athletics track at Charlton late last night. Thanks too to the Head of Legal at Test Valley Borough Council who pulled out all the stops today to coordinate the action with the police."

Cllr North said he was met with a "volley of verbal abuse" when he went to check whether to gate to the track had been damaged after the parkrun on Saturday morning. One of the travellers even drove their car 'at him' in a bid to scare him from the site.

"Their intimidation just makes me more determined to continue to do everything we can to protect the law abiding residents of Test Valley from these unauthorised incursions," he said.

"I’m just glad that, once again, we were able to remove them so quickly and disrupt their abhorrent behaviour. Hopefully, if they know what’s good for them they are now on their way out of Test Valley."