Travellers have been accused of desecrating a First World War poppy garden by using it as a toilet.
People living alongside Ashton Park say they were “horrified” to see men and women openly going to the loo on The Burrows, an area of grassland planted with flowers to mark the 100th anniversary of the Great War.
“It’s disgusting what they were doing on there,” said Maureen Ellison, whose Blackpool Road home backs on to the park.
“Not only was it indecent exposure, but it was also disrespectful to what that area of land stands for.”
The convoy of 17 caravans spent Easter on the park, but moved on just as Preston City Council were going to court to get an eviction order.
Residents said the week they spent with their temporary neighbours was “a nightmare.”
“I could see the camp as I looked out of my window,” said Maureen.
“We shouted at them one day to ask what they thought they were doing and the men just pulled their pants down in front of us and got on with going to the toilet.
“It wasn’t just the men, though – the women were doing it as well.
“They had been provided with portable toilets, yet they were doing it in the open, in full view of people walking their kids to school.”
Maureen and her neighbours planted hundreds of poppy seedlings last month after a national appeal to honour the fallen of the 1914-18 conflict.
They fear that most of those tiny plants have now been trodden underfoot by the travellers making their way across The Burrows.
“We also planted daffodils in there and all sorts of other plants to try and make it a little haven for wildlife,” added Maureen.
“The travellers looked like the same ones who camped there last summer. They didn’t leave too much mess then, but they certainly did this time.
“I don’t think we’ll be seeing too many of our poppies flowering for the World War One anniversary this year. I don’t suppose these people knew what that area of land means, but it is still disrespectful.”
A spokesperson for Preston City Council said: “We had several complaints from residents about the travellers using this piece of land as a toilet and we sent staff down there to check. There was certainly human excrement there and we have had to clean it up.
“That was despite us providing them with portable loos during their stay.
“We did everything we possibly could, but they still behaved like that. We were due in court to apply for an eviction order, but the night before the case they left.”