Council plans bollards in Clipstone and Ollerton in a bid to stop travellers setting up camp
A council is planning to spend more than £150,000 on boulders and bollards to keep travellers off land in parts of the area – including in Clipstone and Ollerton.
The deputy leader of Newark & Sherwood Council says the decision has been reached following concerns from residents living next to unauthorised encampments.
Representatives of the traveller community have previously said the number of designated sites in the area is not enough to meet demand.
The authority stressed the latest move is not against the traveller community and those wishing to set up camp will be moved to more suitable sites.
This summer, the council says travellers have occupied several sites across the district, with the estimated legal cost of eviction and clean up of one site sitting at about £7,000.
The council stated: “Following these incidents, which were at significant cost to the public purse to resolve, the council was criticised for not taking action to secure sites against repeat occupation.”
Now, the local authority will try to address the issue at its next policy and finance committee on Thursday, September 23.
Bollards, boulders, tree planting, barriers, and access gates are among some of the measures which could be put in place to stop travellers accessing the land.
Twenty-one ‘at risk’ sites have been identified across the area, with plans for two bollards at Sherwood Health in Ollerton, a height barrier and possible bollards at Vicar Water Country Park in Clipstone, drop bollards and tree planting at Dodsley Way Open Space in Clipstone, and bollards at Boughton Open Space.
The projected costs for works so far are £197,305 for all sites.
The report states: “The purpose of the proposed works is not to prevent groups from entering the district, rather to ensure the impacts on and conflicts with residents are kept to a minimum and to ensure gypsy and traveller groups are encouraged to use more suitable areas.”
The council believes the move will reduce crime and antisocial behaviour, improve the health and wellbeing of residents and avoid ‘significant eviction costs’.
Coun Keith Girling, deputy district council leader said: “This is not against travellers. Some have caused a mess – faeces, rubbish, and damage and it is not acceptable.
“Residents are a bit fed up and it is more to do with that than anything else. We have pitches, but they do not tend to want to go down there.
“This will cost us money initially, but then it will pay itself back over time.”
He said it will save time by avoiding the eviction route, which can be a lengthy and costly process. He said the council is also committed in building pitches for travellers.
Currently, the council is reviewing 22 sites for the traveller and gypsy community.
Richard Bennett, chief executive of Gypsy Life, which represents the traveller community, said last month: “Newark & Sherwood has one of the country’s largest traveller populations.
“It’s quite ironic that the council announces these 20-odd plots when we’ve got about 25,000 members of the community in the district.
“People who look at this quite negatively will think these 20-odd plots are a maximum need, when actually, it’s a minimum need.
“Not all gypsies and travellers live in caravans, a large number of us live in housing, but not by choice.”