FEELINGS ran high when angry residents clashed with a gypsy leader at a public meeting.

A row erupted after Southampton City Council officers unveiled plans to stop travellers setting up camp on a public green.

The proposals to restrict vehicle access onto Freemantle Common, in Peartree, by installing wooden posts and soil mounds followed complaints about caravan-dwellers staying illegally on the land for 18 days and causing problems last summer.

But Basil Burton, National Romany Rights Association chairman, accused the City Council of breaking the law by not providing gypsies with land to live on.

He told the meeting that he did not condone gypsies living where they were not welcome.

But Mr Burton told the meeting : "The city council is under an obligation to make land available for gypsy accommodation in its structure plan but it has not."

He added: "In other words, they are breaking the law.

"These people have to go somewhere but there are no temporary sites in Southampton."

One woman responded: "Gypsies give nothing back and just cause nuisance. If they are so wealthy, why don't they buy the land?"

City council gypsy and traveller officer Pauline Cole told the meeting that there was very little land available in Southampton.