CORONAVIRUS concerns have been raised in relation to a group of Travellers who have pitched up in Flintshire.

The Travellers set up an encampment on Bretton Lane, near Broughton, on Sunday and local residents are concerned about their arrival from another area amid the coronavirus pandemic and the potential for it to spread.

Flintshire Council says it is "aware" of the issue and is "working with North Wales Police and partner agencies to resolve" the situation, but that it needs to ensure its response is "proportionate and consistent" with Welsh Government guidelines surrounding unauthorised encampments amid coronavirus restrictions.

The Welsh Government says it wrote to local authorities at the beginning of March saying in the interests of public health, local authorities, police forces and other landowners should not evict unauthorised encampments, unless there are "immediate and substantial risks to public safety" arising from continued occupation.

It says it is "vital" that welfare assessments are undertaken by councils before any action is taken, and that where eviction is considered necessary, an alternative suitable location should be identified by the local authority.

The Welsh Government says "toleration and negotiation" with campers does not mean that authorities are condoning or, authorising an encampment, but that it is simply a "pragmatic response to mitigate potentially harmful outcomes in unprecedented circumstances".

However, the authorities' response to the situation has been slammed by Broughton community councillor Klaus Armstrong-Braun, who has echoed concerns by residents over the situation.

He told the Leader: "Flintshire, and North Wales as a whole, is seeing a spike in the number of coronavirus cases, so a group of people coming from a different area is a huge concern.

"I can't see how rules for one group are different from anyone else - if tourists had suddenly turned up they would be moved on immediately and possibly prosecuted for breaching Covid-19 regulations.

"We have no idea where this particular group of Travellers have come from or whether any of them have or have had Covid-19, and not only do they potentially pose a risk to us, local people do to them as well.

"We have a lot of elderly people within the local area who are at a very high risk to this virus - I'm really angry that the authorities are letting this happen.

"They are parked up on a public highway, and pedestrians are having to go right through the middle of the encampment."

Broughton Community Council says it is "extremely concerned" about the potential risk to members of the community and is "liaising closely" with Flintshire County Council and North Wales Police about the situation, but admits this is "particularly difficult" in the current situation.

A spokesperson said: "Whilst all agencies recognise the concerns of local residents there are procedures and legislative requirements that need to be adhered to.

"The county council and the police have confirmed that they are monitoring the situation and have encouraged members of the public to contact 101 to report anything of a criminal nature or indeed anti-social behaviour.

"The police have confirmed that they will monitor this issue and deal with any criminal offences."

A Flintshire Council spokesperson said: "We are aware that a group of Travellers are currently staying roadside in Bretton.

"We are working with North Wales Police and partner agencies to resolve this situation.

"Whilst we understand and appreciate that this encampment will be causing residents in the immediate area concern we have to ensure that our response is both proportionate and consistent with the guidance from Welsh Government about unauthorised encampments during the Covid-19 pandemic."

North Wales Police was approached for comment.