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Special Scrutiny meeting - unauthorised traveller encampments

Published on Wednesday, 7th December 2016

The Council’s Planning & Environment Overview & Scrutiny Panel is meeting tomorrow, Thursday 8 December to address public concerns regarding traveller encampments within the borough.

The Panel will scrutinise the powers available to remove unauthorised encampments from Council land and review ways to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Partners from other agencies and local MPs have been invited to contribute to the meeting; the objective is to consider the multi-agency approach within the borough to see if there’s any scope for improvement.

Cllr Jill Sheppard, Chair of the Planning & Environment Overview & Scrutiny Panel said:

“In dealing with the problems of unauthorised encampments, we work closely with the police and other agencies, so it’s essential to involve all parties in the discussion. We’ve invited our three local MPs too and hope they are able to attend.

“The meeting takes place openly in public session so that everyone has all the facts and can judge the situation fairly for themselves. Our residents deserve to know what’s going on. This is an issue of huge local concern and it’s important all our partners are able to contribute to the debate in a constructive and transparent way.”

Cllr Ian Lloyd, portfolio holder for Arts and Leisure said:

“Like many local authorities across the country, we have experienced a significant number of unauthorised traveller encampments over recent years and have been frustrated with the limited legal powers we have to remove them. Current legislation doesn’t allow us to move travellers on as quickly as we’d like to, which is extremely frustrating for us and our residents.

“Whilst informal feedback from the local courts suggests that we act far faster than most local authorities, we are keen to explore every opportunity for further improvement. Our Scrutiny Panel will be examining the powers available to us to make sure that we’re making best use of them and also identify any improvements that might be made to legislation to prevent or reduce unauthorised encampments. The Panel will also look at alternative solutions to the problem and at land defences.”

The meeting takes place at 5pm in the Town Hall and is open to the public. Once the Council has delivered its report, there will be up to a 20 minute period when members of the public have opportunity to speak, with each person being given up to 3 minutes on a first come, first served basis.  Anyone who wishes to speak at the meeting should advise the Committee Officer in advance on 02476 376204 or in person prior to the commencement of the meeting.

For frequently asked questions about the legal position in relation to traveller encampments, please go to