South Cambs councillors call for review into unauthorised traveller sites

An unauthorised traveller encampment pictured in the north east of the county yesterday. Picture: Ia

An unauthorised traveller encampment pictured in the north east of the county yesterday. Picture: Ian Carter - Credit: Archant

South Cambs councillors are calling on the Government to set up an independent commission to explore the best way to meet the needs of gypsies and travellers who move around the country.

The call, from South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet members, follows a Government consultation that focused on what changes councils believe are needed to resolve costly enforcement issues when caravans are encamped without permission.

Across the whole of Cambridgeshire during a one-year period up until the end of March 2018, 200 cases of illegal encampments were reported and 99 needed bailiffs to carry out evictions.

Each eviction, paid for by the landowner, costs on average just over £1,000.

District Councillor Hazel Smith, cabinet member for housing on SCDC, said: “A full review is needed with the aim of having a joined up national approach to providing stopping places as well as powers so people can be moved on more quickly when parked up without authorisation. This is not a South Cambridgeshire matter, this is a national debate that Government needs to take the lead on.

“When we talk to most traveller families who come to the area we find out that they are only here for a short time as they have an unwell relative at a local hospital, or are attending a family celebration. They then move on.

They don’t really want to be at the roadside, and villagers in communities across the district do not want them to be there either. Let’s resolve this rather than just look to increase enforcement.

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“In South Cambridgeshire we investigate nearly around 600 enforcement cases each year and the vast majority only involve the settled community. We take the same approach to them all.”

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