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PS150k spent dealing with illegal traveller encampments; SINCE 2013 THE LOCAL AUTHORITY HAS SEEN 101 CAMPS SET UP.

Byline: CLAIRE HARRISON Nuneaton Reporter news@coventrytelegraph.net

MORE than PS150,000 of Council Tax payers' cash has been spent in just four years on tackling traveller encampments across Nuneaton and Bedworth.

Through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, it has been revealed just how much Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council has spent on cleaning up after illegal encampments as well as fortifying land under-risk from incursions.

It emerged that, since 2013, the local authority has had to deal with 101 unauthorised encampments with the hardest hit year being 2015 when the Town Hall had to tackle a whopping 40 separate traveller incursions.

The full cost of all 101 incursions in terms of staff time, clean-up costs, court costs, bailiff costs and other charges, hit PS83, 414.

On top of this, the Town Hall spent PS69,100 since 2015 on strengthening existing boundaries and barriers, as well as providing additional 'target hardening' measures.

The summer of 2015 will be live long in the minds of residents due to the sheer amount of traveller incursions, with the now infamous 'Butlins' holiday camp sign appearing near to the Jubilee Sports Centre, which was repeatedly targeted.

Show down talks have been held about how to prevent a repeat of 2015, not only in the borough, but wider Warwickshire, involving the police and Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe following show-down talks held at the Town Hall in December last year.

The borough council has signed up to a protocol, designed by the PCC, but it has continued its insistence that the solution to dealing with illegal traveller incursions lies with the government.

Back in October, Nuneaton's MP Marcus Jones, raised the borough's plight in the corridors of power in Parliament.

In his role as minister, Nuneaton's MP, Marcus Jones spoke about the impact that traveller encampments have on communities and local authorities.

As a result, he revealed that the government will be undertaking a 'call for evidence' review to see if the existing powers that are available to councils, such as the borough council , are strong enough to tackle the issue.

During his speech, Mr Jones explained that whatever the result of the review, the powers will still have to be enforced by local authorities.

"I am pleased that we have signalled our intention to seek a call for evidence to review the way in which existing powers are enforced and to understand what more can be done to tackle many of the issues raised in the debate," Mr Jones said.

"However, I caution members because, whatever powers this House has given, and may give, it is important to say that those powers will inevitably be enforced at local level and that enforcement is the key to success in this regard."

Speaking after the debate, he added: "Over a number of years we have had parks and other land illegally occupied by groups of travellers who had no care for the rights of landowners or those who live nearby; who left huge amounts of waste of all types behind and, once the legal processes forced them to move on, often moved very short distances and set up another illegal encampment.

"This situation cannot just continue and the government is determined to examine how the current powers that councils and police have are being used and look at what more can be done to tackle this important issue."

Over a number of years we have had parks and other land illegally occupied by groups of travellers who had no care for the rights of landowners or those who live nearby MP Marcus Jones

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A travellers' camp behind Camp Hill Primary School
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Dec 9, 2017
Words:610
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