TRAVELLERS have frustrated Radcliffe residents by setting up camp near the old East Lancashire Paper Mill site for the third time in as many years.

Residents spotted the camp being set up in a public car park in Church Street East, near the now-derelict Papermakers Arms pub, yesterday.

At least 10 caravans can be seen at the camp on council-owned land which backs onto Brook Street and East Street.

The landowners of the main East Lancashire Mill site are CHP Properties but this portion of the land belongs to the council, who confirmed they have instigated action to evict them.

Residents of the nearby streets say travellers have moved onto and left these grounds three times in the last three years, usually only staying for less than a week.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: “The portion of land the camp is on is not private land - it is actually part of a public highway.

“At the moment they are not causing any obstruction and we have not had any instances of antisocial behaviour reported, so we will not be taking any action at this stage.”

A resident of Brook Street, who did not wish to be named, said the travellers camp has appeared on this site every year for the past three years at around this time.

She said: “If they just stayed, kept quietly to themselves and tidied their rubbish into a skip before they left no one would have a problem with that.

“But they can be violent and abusive and they leave disgusting rubbish.

“Last year after they left we cleaned up and found full nappies, underwear, plates covered in food and human excrement.”

A spokesman for CHP Properties said no permission had been given from them for the travellers to use any of the East Lancashire Mill land they own.

Mark Kilcoyne, chairman of the East Lancashire Paper Mill Cricket Club which uses the land, said: “They appear on this land around every six months or so and in the last few years I have seen them there about three or four times.

“They usually leave within seven days and move onto a disused car park in Ringley Road — I don’t know where they go after that.

“They have never done any damage to the cricket club or caused a nuisance to us.”

CHP Properties, formerly known as P&F Properties, acquired the East Lancashire Paper Mill site in 2007 and proposed a regeneration project including houses, buildings for employment, a new high school and a water feature.

The company has been unable to find a buyer for the site and last May Bury Council’s planning committee voted to extend the time limit on the planning permission to 2016.

Bury Council has one permanent gypsy and traveller site at Fernhill, housing around 59 residents on 17 pitches.

There are no transit sites or designated stopping places in Bury, resulting in a number of unauthorised encampments taking place each year.

Information on Bury Council’s website states: “Bury Council do not have a duty to move gypsies or travellers if they are camped without the landowner’s permission.

“If gypsies or travellers are camped on council land, the council can evict them.

“If they are on private land, it is usually the landowner's responsibility. The government has advised that when gypsies or travellers are not causing a problem, the site may be tolerated.”