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Update on unauthorised traveller encampment

Published on Monday, 14th January 2019

Last night a group of travellers compromised several locked security barriers and concrete blocks to access Borough Council land at Gala Fields, where they have set up an encampment.

Cabinet Member, Cllr Barry Longden said:

"Our officers attended with police colleagues this morning, to serve directions to move. We will now book the earliest possible court date so that we can remove the encampment as quickly as the current law allows - unfortunately this is the process we have to follow by law and it takes time.

"Like our residents, we are utterly frustrated with travelling groups moving from one site to another, taking up occupation without authority, taking over our community facilities and costing the Council, the Police and other agencies valuable resources which could be better utilised elsewhere.

"We have just gone through the whole legal process to remove the encampment from the Pingles car park. This was expensive and took the usual amount of time to go through the legal process required which is well known to the occupiers of the encampments.

"As I have said before, a change in the law is needed to help local authorities and the Police deal with the situation more effectively and prevent the distress to the local community caused by these encampments. We are currently working with an experienced barrister to secure an injunction to better protect our land, but again this takes time and there is no guarantee it will be granted by the Courts.

"I would like to thank our residents for their patience and I will keep everyone informed of progress with the injunction. I am aware that there are some rumours and misunderstandings circulating on social media and would like to set the record straight - firstly, our parking enforcement officers have NOT been active at the Pingles site this morning issuing tickets to residents whilst the clean-up operation took place. Secondly, I'd like to reassure residents that the Gala site WAS properly secured with barriers and blocks, but these were compromised by the travellers.

"Once again, thank you to residents for their understanding."