The true cost of the clean-up operation after travellers set up camp on the old sports centre site in High Wycombe earlier this year has been revealed – with the district council forking out £41,000 to remove mountains of rubbish.

A staggering 210 tonnes of waste had to be removed from the building site where the former Wycombe Sports Centre, off Marlow Hill, used to stand after travellers spent a week there in April.

Aerial pictures taken at the time showed at least six caravans and six vans on the site, surrounded by piles of rubbish.

Wycombe District Council’s environment chief, Cllr Julia Adey, said 155 tonnes had to be sorted and 28 fridges, 18 mattresses and some asbestos cement was found on the site when the council moved in to clear the mess. The sorted waste also included “large amounts of timber and builders’ waste”.

As well as the £41,000 cost to get rid of the rubbish – which was organised and paid for by the council’s major projects and estates team - an extra £2,000 was spent on extra security for the site.

The question was posed to Cllr Adey at a full council meeting on Monday evening by former WDC leader and councillor, Roger Colomb, who was stunned at the scale of the mess left on the site.

He said: “According to my calculations, if it was 210 tonnes, it must have been about 70 truckloads going into that site. The mind boggles to the innocent as to how we weren’t able to prevent those trucks getting in in the first place.  

“I realise it is difficult to deal with travellers, they seem to have rights above other citizens in this country, but you can, I would have thought, dealt with the commercial aspect of this operation. It was on an industrial scale.”

Cllr Adey said: “This clearance came under major projects and estates so only they could clarify how many trucks got in and out and how it happened.

“We do always get hold of the Oxon and Bucks Gypsy and Traveller Service who set in motion removing travellers from sites and we always ask police for their help, which is sometimes forthcoming and sometimes isn’t.

“The travellers break in – it was a locked site – they creep in, they get in there and of course once they are in there, they bring bits in now and again. It’s all I can tell you.

“Bucks County Council did recover evidence of where some of the waste originated and has sought to levy charges.”