TRAVELLERS have returned to a York beauty spot.

A group of up to 50 with a dozen caravans rolled on to Rawcliffe Country Park beside a busy Park&Ride site yesterday.

Local councillor Mark Waudby warned there could be trouble looming.

He predicted that the visitors - who have been given a Sunday deadline to leave - would hit York's tourist image.

Two years ago a group at the same site was blasted for causing noise, leaving litter and verbally abusing residents, before leaving behind a bill running into thousands of pounds.

Coun Waudby now wants to know how access was gained again.

He said: "There's always a concern when a group of travellers turn up on a site that's not registered.

"They did a lot of damage last time and people get concerned about their property."

In 2002, the councillor called for immediate action to be taken to prevent further "destruction".

New, more durable fencing and large stones had improved security, but failed to stop the latest encampment.

Coun Waudby stressed it was only a minority of travellers who gave them a bad name. The majority were "very good people".

But he said: "I hope this is just a one-off.

"A lot of residents have already called me to express concerns.

"The Park&Ride is very popular and the first thing tourists will see is a travellers' camp.

"It's not the image York really wants to promote.

"We've spent a lot of time and energy on making York a clean, tidy city."

Richard Shrimpton, of nearby Shipton Road Stores, said no fencing appeared to have been damaged.

One customer had told him they got in through a gate which was normally locked.

A City of York Council spokeswoman said: "Officers from the council's street environment team have already been to the site and we will be serving the travellers with a notice of direction to leave.

"This will give them until Sunday to vacate the area."

A York Police spokesman said a report about the travellers was received at 2pm yesterday. He said the situation would be monitored, but it was up to the council to take action.

In 2002 the city council was forced to take legal action to remove the travellers after a ten-day stay.

Updated: 10:36 Friday, April 23, 2004