Watch the moment travellers used a DIGGER to break their way on to a playing field
This is the moment travellers used a DIGGER to destroy wooden barriers so they could move on to a West Bromwich playing field.
The extraordinary scene was captured on video by a resident as the digger was used to remove the low-level fencing, allowing around 20 vehicles on to the land.
It happened at around 8pm last night, but council chiefs used the footage as evidence and was able to get the group moved in less than three hours.
It happened around the playing field off Wyntor Lane and Schofield Avenue at around 8pm on Thursday.
Police and council officers ordered the group to leave or be arrested for criminal damage, and they moved on by 10.30pm.
Sandwell Council chief executive Jan Britton said: "This is another example of us working with the police to remove unauthorised encampments as quickly as possible.
“The fence was torn down in front of the eyes of residents, who captured the act on their mobile phones.
“This was incredibly useful evidence for the council and the police - it meant we could show criminal damage was committed to gain access to the field.
“I’d encourage anyone who spots this sort of criminal activity, if they can do so safely and without putting anybody at risk, to capture it on camera and hand the evidence to the police and council.”
The council said it had dealt with more than 90 'unauthorised encampments' in a year, costing more than £250,000 in clean-ups, security and legal costs.
Jane Heartland, aged 55, said: " I was shocked what I saw last night. I didn't think they would go to that length.
"Travellers have been on the parkland around five times in the last three years."
She added the street was 'filled with residents' last night who were frustrated at the scene.
Another resident, Mrs Coleman, aged 63, said: "I watched them take the digger across, they were really going for it. I think it was good how quickly the travellers were moved off."
Another resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said she shouted at the man with the digger when she saw him.
"I was shocked to see the digger," she added.
Hateley Heath ward councillor Paul Moore said: "Officers acted quickly. They said to the travellers if you don't vacate the land we are taking your vehicles.
"The operation was a good example of police and the council working together to take swift action."
Sandwell Council installed concrete blocks and metal poles where the fence was removed by travellers to block access.