TRAVELLERS are planning to race along the A33 again in June – and police are unsure if they will be able to stop them.

The horse and trap event over the bank holiday weekend saw the main road near Micheldever closed for the majority of Saturday and Sunday.

Hampshire Constabulary have received several reports that the same is planned for June 19 and 20.

But speaking at Micheldever Parish Council's AGM, Winchester district inspector John Stribley said it is unknown whether officers will be able to prevent the dangerous sport.

He said: "We are aware that the event is planned for June 19 and 20, and this has been moved from a district concern to a force-wide issue. This means we will hopefully be better resourced.

"I don't yet know whether we will be stopping the event, this is now being dealt with at a higher level. When I have the answer, I will let you know. Of course in an ideal world I would like something in place to stop such disruption, but as I say that decision won't be made by me.

"We will be doing all we can based on the information we have at hand."

More than 20 local residents joined the online AGM to express their concerns.

Nick Allen who lives in the village said that Travellers practice their horse and trap racing "every weekend", with vehicles driving behind to prevent any traffic passing.

"This is an event that has grown and grown," said Nick. "Police have turned a blind eye, I've seen it and have a video of an officer not stopping a practice run the week before the main event.

"When they're practicing, will officers be out there to stop them, or will they wait for this huge event to take action?"

Inspector Stribley justified the force's handling of the situation last weekend. He said that officers were only expecting 150 participants to show up, but instead between 400 and 500 attended.

He said: "We had to go to a strategic operations panel to see how the situation would be dealt with. It was decided just Winchester district officers would be used.

"Obviously we now know with the benefit of hindsight that by 7am the road was blocked with 400-500 male, middle-aged Travellers – as a result, both carriages were blocked.

"We put the closures in place for safety. Not so much for those who chose to stand and race in the middle of the road, but for members of the local community who were driving to or from work, or driving for other reasons."

Inspector Stribley added that it would have been "impossible" for the officers to move on so many Travellers, and that the closures were "tactical".