Council considers new powers to deal with unauthorised traveller camps

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New Forest East MP Julian Lewis has written to the government after Totton council had to deal with travellers at Eling Rec

PRE-EMPTIVE injunctions could be taken out at hot spots for unauthorised encampments in a bid to prevent them being set up.

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The measure is one of a number to have been considered by a BCP Council cross-party group of councillors set up to review its approach to the issue, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

It has recommended that the council’s ruling cabinet “explore the feasibility” of using pre-emptive injunctions in places with a history of unauthorised encampments.

The review was called as part of efforts to create a consolidated approach to dealing with the issue as BCP Council inherited three different policies when it was formed last year.

Across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole there are about 50 unauthorised encampments reported each year which cost the council £100,000.

The review has recommended the new management policy continue to provide skips and toilets where necessary, with security made available in “exceptional circumstances”.

The group also suggested only “limited” new physical measures to prevent access to a site and “as local circumstances dictate”. Its third recommendation is that council officers look into alternative “stopping places” to be provided across the conurbation.

The fourth measure was pre-emptive injunctions with a request made that the council considers the potential for their introduction where sites are most frequently used for unauthorised encampments. This is estimated to cost about £125,000.

A report outlining the recommendations said: “This has set legal precedence, in which other councils have subsequently successfully obtained pre-emptive injunctions, although on sites with a known history of anti-social behaviour.

“It must be noted that these councils had to provide evidence to the court that they could demonstrate they were actively working towards the provision of alternative stopping places and that a thorough and meaningful equality impact assessment had been undertaken.”

The report also suggests £50,000 to fund a new member of staff to manage the issue. The working group’s recommendations will be considered by the council’s cabinet on 30th September.

Forest MP wants action on unauthorised traveller encampments

NEW Forest East MP Julian Lewis has written to the government urging it to deliver an “effective legislative solution” to unauthorised traveller encampments.

Dr Lewis was contacted by Totton and Eling Town Council for help after it paid thousands of pounds to clean up after a convoy of caravans illegally gained access to one of its recreation grounds.

In a letter to Home Office minister Kit Malthouse, the MP referenced recent government consultation around giving powers to arrest and seize the property and vehicles of those who set up unauthorised caravan sites.

Dr Lewis added: “It is vital that such proposals should be developed for maximum effectiveness.”

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