TAXPAYERS have been hit with the bill for cleaning up “outrageous” mess left by travellers who pitched up illegally in a Sydenham car park.
Around 20 large caravans arrived on October 20 at the overflow section of the Girton Road car park and left behind vast amounts of rubbish with melted tarmac from open fires.
The group only left on November 11 – the day Lewisham Council was taking them to court for trespassing - after being served an eviction order on October 23.
The clean-up job is due to finish today - with the cost to taxpayers not yet known - and the council "reluctantly" forking out in a time of budget cuts.
Neighbour Adrian Barnard said: "I was horrified to see the mess and damage they have left.
"It's outrageous that they are allowed to get away with it."
Concrete sleepers have been set up to prevent further intrusions and other costs include labour, materials, and repairs to the burnt tarmac and damaged height and width restriction posts.
News Shopper also received reports from residents of smashed windows and bricks thrown in the area at passersby around the back of Sainsbury’s, in Southend Lane.
Around 20 caravans rocked up at Bell Green and Catford Stadium on the night after travellers left the car park.
But police had more powers to move them on from these private land sites and caravans were later seen heading towards the Blackwall Tunnel on November 11.
Two caravans were left behind at Catford Stadium and police have made arrangements to remove them.
A Lewisham Council spokesman said: "We will have to foot the bill for this.
"It is money the council has had to spend - money that we could do with spending on other things particularly in a time of budget cuts.
"This is a necessary expenditure but one we have reluctantly had to do.
"They were trespassing and needed to leave."
He added that a balance needed to be found between securing the site against caravans while making sure large delivery trucks could still fit in for access to local stores.