Solihull residents called on to have say on review about council powers over unauthorised encampments - The Solihull Observer

Solihull residents called on to have say on review about council powers over unauthorised encampments

Solihull Editorial 11th Apr, 2018   0

Silhillians are being called upon to have their say in a Government review on new powers to tackle unauthorised traveller encampments.

The review, announced by Housing Minister Dominic Raab, is seeking views on how to strengthen local authority and police powers in order to deal with illegal sites like the ones which pop up across the borough.

The consultation, carried out jointly by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Home Office and Ministry of Justice, covers police and local authority powers, court processes, government guidance, the provision of legal sites, and the impact on settled and travelling communities.

At the present time, the law regards traveller incursions as a civil (trespass) offence. Therefore, it is necessary for local councils to pursue a court order to evict the communities from sites.




It is only possible for the police to intervene to move on an illegal encampment when there is sufficient evidence that links that encampment to crime and when the camp comprises of a total of six vehicles or more.

To strengthen local protections, Solihull Council recently secured an injunction against a family of travellers known to the police and local authorities, whom have been reported to have caused significant distress and nuisance across the West Midlands in recent years.


Housing Minister Dominic Raab said: “The vast majority of the travelling community are decent and law-abiding people. But, we are particularly concerned about illegal traveller encampments, and some of the anti-social behaviour they can give rise to.

“We must promote a tolerant society and make sure there are legal sites available for travellers, but equally the rule of law must be applied to everyone.”

Dame Caroline Spelman, Meriden MP has welcomed the consultation and urged residents to take part in this consultation or write to her and she will pass on the views to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government for the Government to consider.

She added: “Unauthorised encampments, such as many of those which we saw last summer in Solihull, can cause local residents significant distress and they portray a negative image of the travelling community – the vast majority of whom are law-abiding citizens.

“I welcome the fact that the Government is now seeking local views in order to strengthen the laws that protect local communities from illegal and unauthorised encampments. In particular, the Minister is keen to understand our views on whether existing measures should be strengthened, and how public authorities can use the powers available to them more effectively.

“To that end,”

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, also welcomed the announcement and said the government must move quickly to halt the stress which illegal encampments can cause to the settled community and are giving the law abiding travellers who are in the majority a bad name.

Mr Jamieson said: “It is good news that the government are finally looking to take action to tackle unauthorised traveller encampments.

“Just before Christmas I met with the Minister and MPs to share my recommendations and I am glad that the government have listened to us.

“I will continue to work with MPs to ensure that action comes from this consultation takes place in their constituencies.”

The consultation is available at www.gov.uk/government/consultations/powers-for-dealing-with-unauthorised-development-and-encampments

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