A nursery was forced to close over the weekend as travellers set up camp in Seears Park next door.

Several caravans were spotted by witnesses in the public space near St Dunstan’s Hill, on September 8 and 9, before they moved on.

But Kevin Plicio, manager of community project Yourspace.sutton and the nursery, shut the area over fears of "inviting unnecessary trouble" through the entrance’s gates.

In a Facebook post, on September 8, he said: “Last night as I left the nursery in the dark I found myself locking the gates in the midst of a host of traveller arrivals and activity.

“For a moment, I felt myself alone and vulnerable and all I wanted to do was get out quickly.

“My Yourspace.sutton community project is supposed to champion inclusion and social integration, and yet here today I have decided it is in the best interest of our nursery, and our volunteers and their efforts, that I should close instead.

“The nursery works without any funding and on a zero [pound] budget. That means the rent, bills, and every last visible thing you see is something I have to personally fund.

“There is no room for setbacks or disasters – of which we have already had many.”

Sutton Guardian:

Witness said the travellers got through the entrance pictured here. Photo: Brian Robinson

He continued that, while authorities can deal with “disruptive social occurrences”, a “cash-strapped” community project and family-run social enterprise would struggle.

The travellers are said to have moved in during the evening of September 7, which Mr Plicio saw at around 7.30pm, before they moved out a couple days later.

Councillors Jed Dwight and Lily Bande, alongside Sutton and Cheam MP Paul Scully, were on the scene where there were 13 caravans and 30 children – plus some dogs – on Friday.

One witness said 20 caravans and trucks had “taken over” Seears Park.

Images sent into Sutton Guardian show several vehicles parked in the green space near a playground.

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Sutton Council is said to have been on site yesterday morning to deal with the aftermath of the encampment.

The auhtority has been contacted for further comment.

But the community project manager said the nursery was “untouched” – which came as a huge relief.

He added: “I haven’t had an incursion, anything go missing, the park is clear again and I’m open for business.

“I’m delighted, really with how the whole matter was resolved.”

In a further Facebook post Mr Plicio said the situation will be assessed with a “day-by-day plan of action” following the encampment, operating behind a closed gate for the time being.