A CLAMPDOWN on illegal encampments on a much-loved Pershore park will be boosted with the introduction of a protective barrier.
Work will begin to put the barrier around Abbey Park next week, after the idea won backing from the public.
More than 300 people took part in a public consultation on the proposal which will see a knee-high metal railing placed around the park with boulders at pedestrian entry points. There will also be three lockable barriers to allow vehicles access for maintenance and events.
The consultation was in response to concerns raised by the community about illegal encampments at the park last summer. 91 per cent of people who took part in the consultation supported the idea of a physical barrier to deter future illegal encampments.
More than two thirds of comments received on the proposed design were supportive, but questions were raised about the effectiveness of the knee-high rail, the colour of the rail and the vulnerability of the lockable vehicle entry points.
The knee-high rail will be made of metal and will be painted black, as research shows it is less noticeable to the eye than other colours. Wildflower planting will also be used to disguise the barrier for some months of the year.
Measures will be put in place to protect the padlocks as much as possible on the vehicle entry gates to make it harder to cut off, while telescopic bollards will be installed to restrict the width of the vehicle access points when raised.
Work will begin during next week and the aim is to have the rail installed by Easter.
Wychavon is also preparing an application for an order which would allow anyone illegally camping on the park to be quickly moved on.
Discussions have also been held with the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner and West Mercia Police Assistant Chief Constable to clarify what powers the police have to deal with illegal encampments on areas where there is high community concern.
Coun Bradley Thomas, leader of Wychavon District Council, said: “The barrier strikes the right balance between providing a deterrent that will make it more difficult to illegally camp on the park, while protecting the park’s character and enjoyment for all users.”