PLANS are reportedly in place to provide running water at an illegal encampment in Southend if a traveller contracts Covid-19, as numbers increase on the site.

Welfare checks are being carried out on the group at Snakes Lane, Eastwood, with the travellers asked by council officers if they have symptoms and discouraged from non-essential travel.

Running water will be provided to the group if a member tests positive as part of Southend Council’s plans, sources have told the Echo.

The number of travellers on the site has increased in the last two weeks since they initially set up camp.

Mark Flewitt, councillor for the St Laurence ward, said: “It seems the council want to have a permanent traveller site in Southend. Residents in our ward don’t want it, but if others do elsewhere then ask them.

“They have no right to be on the park or no license.

“The council can issue a possession order, but it seems like they don’t want to do this either.”

He also revealed the council has the power to issue a possession order to the group, after Government laws changed on April 25.

This would allow the council to move the travellers on from the recreation ground.

Essex Police has launched an investigation into an incident at the park, in which a woman reported she was verbally abused by a traveller, who “threatened to kill her”.

Bosses at Southend Council had previously said the ‘ball was rolling’ into moving them on, and an injunction was being looked into.

Daniel Cowan, a Labour ward councillor for St Laurence, urged for more decisive action to be taken. He said: “More travellers have joined the group since they arrived.

“This is frustrating everyone. Waste and litter has been building up in the park, which must be reported to the council if people find it. Anti-social behaviour issues must be reported to the police.

“They need to be moved on swiftly and increased security measures must be put in place. Secure anti-bolt cutter locks need to be in place with concrete pillars too to stop entry by brute force.”

A spokesman from Southend Council confirmed no Covid-19 tests have been used by the travellers, but did not comment on the ‘contingency plans’.

Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible for environment and planning, said: “The council is continuing to monitor the traveller encampment.

Any legal action is not straightforward as the council must have regard to recent Government guidance.

“The council is continuing to work closely with Essex Police in connection with the encampment.”