Essex County Council has employed a security firm to guard the new travellers' site in Colchester from illegal occupiers. Families moved onto the £1.9m site in Severalls Lane last week. The council's using a government grant to employ two security guards and their guard dogs 24 hours a day.

County Councillor John Jowers, Cabinet Member for Communities and Planning, said:

"The security has been in place since the latter stages of the construction process. The purpose was initially to secure the site from theft/damage as there were some thefts of materials and attempted break-ins. On completion of construction, this remit was extended to prevent illegal occupation and continues to allow the site to settle in. "The fee for one man and one dog is £11.50/hour. This project has been fully funded from a grant Essex County Council received from central government and all costs have been and will be met from this grant."

Essex County Councillor John Jowers, Cabinet Member for Communities and Planning said:

"Essex County Council has a successful record of managing authorised traveller sites, with 11 currently existing across the county. The Severalls Lane site has been created in order to address the shortage of permanent traveller places across the country and is now fully operational. The first new residents moved in last week and these families are currently settling in to their new homes. We are extremely hopeful that the new community will be welcomed into the area."