Travellers who have set up camp in an affluent West London park over the bank holiday weekend refused to move today despite the local council taking legal action against them amid a stand-off.
The group of travellers are continuing to stay on the picturesque Kew Green in Richmond after arriving four days ago on Thursday evening with around 12 caravans and other vehicles.
But despite being asked to move on Friday, the group showed no signs of leaving today as they walked around the site and gathered in groups in the sunshine with temperatures soaring to 77F (25C).
Richmond Council is taking legal action against the group – who are believed to be from the Republic of Ireland – but has warned this may take a while and result in a delay in moving the travellers.
One of the travellers claimed they wanted to stay on the green until later in the year. When asked how long they planned to keep their caravans pitched, he told MailOnline: ‘I don’t know… maybe six months.’
Another man at the site added: ‘The kids can’t get served in some of the shops around here and have suffered racial abuse, being called ‘gypsies’ and all that. We are just enjoying the weather, having a good day.’
Security guards were seen patrolling the green which is just an eight-minute walk from popular attraction Kew Gardens and is surrounded by properties valued at an average of £2million each.
Young children have been seen playing outside their homes and riding bicycles, mothers are walking their babies around the park in their prams and men have been seen drinking from cans and bottles in groups.
A woman folds a pram over the grass today as the travellers continue to stay on Kew Green in Richmond, West London
A group of men gather on Kew Green in West London today as the travellers refuse to leave amid a stand-off with the council
Travellers continue to stay on the site at Kew Green in West London today as Richmond Council tries to evict them
A woman walks on the grass at Kew Green in West London today as the travellers continue to stay on the site
Residents in the upmarket neighbourhood who would normally be enjoying picnics in the warm weather say they have been forced instead to remain indoors because of the travellers gathered on the green.
Sophie Hunter, 51, said: ‘Police have been scarce since the travellers arrived. It’s caused a lot of upset locally because on a day such as this you’d get people sitting on the green – families would play games and have picnics.
‘But the travellers have ringed the space with their caravans and are very intimidating. A few of them have given a friend of mine some verbals for asking them to turn their generators off.
‘It’s a shame because it’s the nicest weekend weather we’ve had in quite some time. I have to say I’ve avoided going on the green altogether, I usually walk my dogs across there but I’ve taken the long way around today.
‘I’m worried there might be broken glass on the grass from where they’ve been drinking out of bottles and I don’t want the dogs’ feet to be cut.
‘This is a conservation area and to get anything past planning from Richmond Council takes a miracle, unless you turn up mob handed and plonk a load of caravans in the heart of the community.’
Two shirtless men walk on the grass at Kew Green in West London today as the travellers continue to stay at the site
A security guard patrols Kew Green today as Richmond Council continues to try to evict the travellers from the site
A man holds a mug as he talks to other men gathered on the picturesque Kew Green in West London today
The travellers are pictured today having set up camp in the affluent West London park over the bank holiday weekend
Groups of bare chested men were today seen soaking up the sun drinking cans as children cycled on the green. Families had opened car doors on vehicles parked next to their caravans to use as makeshift washing lines.
There were piles of rubbish bags placed neatly by the bins with very little litter strewn across the green.
Local resident Jane Walker, 45, said she would normally take her three-year-old son to Kew Green to play but felt too intimidated this afternoon. he said: ‘I don’t want to be that person, but I’m too worried about going on there at the moment with the older teenagers hanging around.
‘I’d normally take my son over to the green and maybe kick a ball about it but I’ve stayed at home today instead. The travellers have kind of taken over the community space. I hope they aren’t going to be there much longer.’
A couple, who have lived in the area since 1974 but declined to give their names, were walking past today. The man said: ‘We haven’t had travellers on the green for years and years and I hope it doesn’t become a regular thing.
‘I know some travellers used to pitch up on land near to the National Archive but the council put bollards and gates there a few years ago and they haven’t been back since. Perhaps that needs to be done here but it wouldn’t be that pleasing on the eye to surround the green with fencing.
A man stands outside a caravan today as the travellers continue to stay on the green, which is a short walk from Kew Gardens
A man looks inside a caravan today as the travellers continue stay on Kew Green in an affluent part of West London
A man stands next to a park on Kew Green today as travellers stay on the picturesque site in West London
A man washes his hair outside a caravan today as the travellers stay on the site at Kew Green in West London
‘As far as I know there hasn’t been many major problems although I did hear that someone was chased over Kew Bridge for trying to take photos of them the other day. The council sent a worker down to put up notices from the High Court on posts but they were removed and dismantled pretty much straight away.
‘My guess is that if they’re not gone by tomorrow, then they’ll be here until the end of half term.’
Artist Sue Mason, 72, said: ‘I’ve not been too bothered by them myself, although it’s a shame that the families would normally be picnicking and enjoying the green have been put off from going.
‘There isn’t much mess as far as I can see, the families on there have cleaned up after themselves. Whether there is any damage done to the grass from their vehicles we’ll have to see.
‘But there hasn’t been any trouble, there’s not been any loud music or shouting and swearing. The only noise is from their generators which admittedly do go on until late at night. That said I would want them to move on fairly soon.
‘We used to have knee-high white metal fencing that used to surround the green but much of it was removed to help manufacture ammunition during the war. Perhaps we need to put it back?’
A man walks through Kew Green today as the travellers stay on the site in West London at the picturesque park
A man rubs his hands together today as the travellers continue to occupy Kew Green in the Richmond area of West London
A man wipes his face on a towel at Kew Green in West London today as the travellers continue to occupy the site
On Friday, Richmond Council confirmed it would start the legal process to obtain and enforce a possession order.
Delays were expected due to a High Court order earlier this month that denied the council’s request to extend the previous expedited injunction process, in common with numerous other local authorities.
Instead, the council is forced to go via the courts to remove the group. A spokesman for the local authority confirmed once the travellers have been removed it will endeavour to repair any damage caused.
Speaking on Friday, Councillor Julia Neden-Watts said: ‘A small group of travellers has arrived in Kew. This morning, Council officers will commence the legal action required to expedite their departure.
‘Due to a recent court ruling, this process will not be as fast as residents would like and I know that they will be concerned, but we have to work within the law.
‘As soon as the travellers leave, we will inspect the area and ensure that any damage is repaired, and waste removed. Our park guard officers, along with the police, will be monitoring the site closely until the group depart.’
MailOnline has contacted Richmond Council today for an update on the status of the legal proceedings.