A change in the law is needed at national level to help borough councils tackle the issue of illegal encampments, that’s the message from Barpool Cllr Tricia Elliott this morning.
At present borough councils must apply through the courts for eviction orders on every occasion that illegal encampments occur. A so called ‘blanket ban’, as was used in Essex, would require unauthorised encampments to occur over a sustained period, such as 17 months, and have to involve the same group of people. There would also need to be evidence that the defendants did not have any children with particular needs or any other particular circumstances.
Nuneaton and Bedworth borough council is now looking into how it could enforce such a blanket ban within the current legislation, but it is clear to representatives like Cllr Elliott that a change in the law at Westminster is needed to make enforcements more effective in future.
Tricia Elliott said “There is only so much the borough council can do to address this problem with the powers it currently has. The council is now looking into the possibity of a blanket ban, but it won’t be a straightforward process. There are a number of conditions that need to be met. I am fully behind exploring this option, and in the meantime will continue to support affected local residents in whatever way I can.”
In 2016 Nuneaton and Bedworth borough councillors arranged a meeting with the local Tory MPs for Nuneaton, North Warwickshire and Rugby, to discuss a change in the law and how this would give more powers to local authorities to deal with travellers. All three MPs declined to attend the meeting and have failed to do enough in parliament to address the issue. More recently, Philip Seccombe, Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, promised last year that he would deal with the problem across Warwickshire, but there appears to have been little progress so far.
Tricia added “The people best placed to deal with this are MPs like Marcus Jones. Tory MPs have supported cuts to policing and refused to change the law so that we can deal with unauthorised encampments more quickly and effectively. They are expecting local authorities, who have suffered massive budget cuts, to work with the police, who have also suffered cuts, to deal with this problem just as effectively as they would have done eight years ago. We need a change in the law, and Marcus Jones needs to make that case in parliament.”