Council keeps tough line on travellers

Travellers on Sutton Lawn adjacent to properties on Bramley Court.
Travellers on Sutton Lawn adjacent to properties on Bramley Court.

Ashfield District Council has voted to continue with its policy of taking quick legal action against illegal traveller encampments.

At the latest meeting of the council’s cabinet, councillors voted against a scrutiny panel recommendation to place the emphasis on negotiating with groups of travellers who caused havoc in the area last year.

The panel was set up to assess the effectiveness of the draft unauthorised access protocol set up last year to deal with encampments.

It focused on a singular, enforcement-based process.

Councillor Jason Zadrozny, council leader, said: “I recognise the value of scrutiny on these occasions.

“The protocol we drew up last year makes clear any case will be dealt with fairly, regardless of who the individuals are.

“Late last year, we had a number of unauthorised encampments and they caused us a number of problems, parking on parks and football pitches and they deliberately broke down barriers put up to deter them.

“They cost us in clearing up after them and caused community tension between travellers and members of the public who were scared .

“We trialled a number of ways to get them off quickly.

“Of course, we have to abide by Government guidelines if vulnerable people and children are involved and take account of their human rights, to which they are entitled.

“We drew up a policy last year and I think it is still the right thing and to be as tough as possible, where they are causing damage, because our greater responsibility is to members of the public.”

He said the area had an over-provision of places where travellers legally camp, according to Government guidelines.

Coun Zadrozny said: “We negotiate with them anyway.

“I don’t think it is right to pause legal action when we can use it as a parallel process.”