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Traveller encampments

Published on Wednesday, 12th October 2016

In response to recent media coverage regarding traveller incursions within the borough, the Leader of the Council, Cllr Dennis Harvey has issued the following statement.

“We totally share the frustrations of our residents in relation to unauthorised traveller encampments within the Borough. Such encampments can have a huge negative impact on the lives of our residents and place a large financial burden upon the Borough. We always take immediate action in these cases and remove the encampments as soon as possible, working closely with the police.

Unfortunately the legal options available to the Council are limited and the process takes time. We need a change in the law to be able to act faster and prevent the Council from paying out huge sums for legal, repair and cleaning costs. We will be working to raise the profile of this issue in Parliament.

Like most authorities across the UK, we rely on powers under Section 77 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which allows us to remove most encampments within a matter of days. So far the nature of the traveller incursions in our borough has meant that this has been the only legal option available to us.

There has been media speculation that other powers are available to us but this is simply not the case. The incursions thus far have been short term by different groups. The relevant power in such circumstances is Section 77 and this is the power recommended to us by Government Guidance.

In recent years illegal encampments have cost us many thousand pounds which could have been better spent providing services for local residents. It is frustrating that our existing powers don’t allow us to do more.”