Mansfield MP calls for tough action on travellers

Mp Ben Bradley during his speech
Mp Ben Bradley during his speech

Mansfield MP Ben Bradley wants the district council to take “strong action” to stop large groups of travellers setting up camp in the town.

Mr Bradley has written to Mansfield District Council after issues with groups leaving sites strewn with litter and carrying out acts of vandalism.

In recent weeks, travellers have camped on Fisher Lane park, Bellamy Road estate, Sherwood Oaks business park and Ransom Wood business park in Mansfield as well as Queensway Park in Forest Town.

Mr Bradley said: “I’ve had a lot of constituents contact my office to raise their concerns, so I’ve contacted the council to ask what they will be doing to prevent this from happening in the future.

“It’s not on that you have residents feeling threatened in their own neighbourhood, so I want to see the council take some strong action.

“The government is actually looking at how we can strengthen laws around trespassing, and how we can help protect people’s property.”

However, prominent Mansfield businessman Charles Cannon, who owns the Ransom Wood park, believes Mr Bradley is “playing politics” over the issue.

Mr Cannon’s business was targeted by travellers recently and he says the matter is a national issue to solve, not a local one.

He said: “I feel quite strongly that Ben is playing politics with criticising the council, when this is a national problem.

“What I want to have explained by Ben, is why, after last year when the same group of caravans with exactly the same people threatened me, used homophobic abuse and publicly defecated, the Government, represented by Ben, still expects the district to provide sites for these horrific people.

“Until the badly behaved elements are dealt with, you are unlikely to get the community of Mansfield to propose any sites and it’s not fair to blame the district council for this.”

“I have to reiterate that the police have been wonderful within and somewhat beyond their means this time round.”

Councillor Bill Drewett said the council takes the issue of unauthorised camps very seriously and understands residents’ concerns over the issue.

He said: “We will always take swift and appropriate action and start the legal process to serve a direction to leave notice as soon as we have carried out the welfare checks, which we are legally obliged to carry out.

“The council has recently altered its policy so, in particular cases, travellers can be asked to leave a site within 24 hours rather than 48 hours.

“If they fail to leave, the council begins the process of applying for a summons at court.

“If the council is granted a court order, it gives the travellers 24 hours to vacate the site before eviction takes place.

“We already have security measures where possible.”