Residents are afraid a popular car boot fair in Thamesmead will be phased out by the landowners after issues reportedly involving traveller encampments.

Birchmere Park Bootfair has been running for the best part of 25 years but the park has been empty for these past few weeks.

That is because the landowners, Peabody, say they have called the boot fair off because of the legal costs of chasing travellers off the land.

A spokesperson from Peabody said that there had been several illegal encampments on the boot fair site over the recent months,

The spokesperson said: “This has incurred Peabody considerable financial costs in carrying out legal action. Regrettably this has also meant we have no choice but to close and secure the site whilst we consult with our legal advisors.

“We do hope to resolve the situation as soon as we can, and want to see the Birchmere Park Bootfair re-opened at the earliest possible opportunity.”

However people who attend the bootfair are afraid the owners are trying to make everyone forget about the bootfair so Peabody can do something else with the land.

Dick Gauge, 74, has been going to the fair for years and has said he is “worried there is an agenda against it.”

He said: “We are all a bit worried that they are trying to run the boot sale down so they can put something else there.

“When everyone forgets about it and stops going there. Normally you get up to 200 people, everyone used to go to it.

“This has deeply upset many people in the community who like the Bootfair for the service it provides and as a meeting point for family and friends. We feel that it has been deliberately wound down to nothing by Peabody.

“There is also the concern that Birchmere Park itself could become a prime spot for Peabody to build a housing development or other installation there.”

A spokesperson from Peabody said they are aware of the concerns but said that they supports the boot fair and that this is a temporary issue.