HYNDBURN looks set to become a no-go zone for travellers as the council considers blocking off its playing fields and open spaces.

Although the overall cost and number of sites have yet to be finalised, Coun Doug Hayes said Hyndburn Council was considering the drastic action to avoid a repetition of this summer's problems.

Police moved travellers from playing fields in Stanhill Lane, Knuzden, only for them to be found a few hours later on Heys playing field, Fielding Lane, Oswaldtwistle, next to Rhyddings High School.

And although the police used their new powers to move them on again, both sites were left with rubbish strewn across the fields and the grass dug up.

The powers, under section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act brought in earlier this year, mean that the police can move travellers after the landowner has initially asked them to move.

Coun Hayes said that using obstructions such as large boulders at site entrances would stop travellers getting on in the first place and prevent the council being faced with a huge clean-up bill.

He said the first sites to be considered were Stanhill Lane, Heys playing field, and an open space off Blackburn Road near to the Old Mother Redcap pub.

These will be discussed, along with the whole issue, at Oswaldtwistle area council meeting at the town's civic theatre, in Union Road, next Tuesday.

"I've mentioned it to the environmental health department and they are looking at the action, but the first step will be the area council meeting to find out what people's views are on the matter.

"I'm not sure of the cost of the project or the number of sites across the borough that will need to be tackled but it will mean that the council and the taxpayer will not have to pay to clean up after them in the future.

"Both Stanhill Lane and Heys were left in a state and it just makes more sense to prevent them getting on in the first place. We were thinking of using such things as bollards or large decorative boulders that are too heavy to move or be pushed out of the way."

Steve Todd, head of environmental health, said: "In terms of the council's land, officers can look at the feasibility of protecting it, but clearly there is a cost in that, together with the practicalities of what can be done.

"Each site would have to be looked at on its own merits, costed out, and the council would have to make a decision as to whether it wanted to spend that amount of money."