Tougher action needs to be taken against travellers say residents - The Solihull Observer

Tougher action needs to be taken against travellers say residents

Solihull Editorial 25th Sep, 2017 Updated: 26th Sep, 2017   0

TOUGHER action needs to be taken against travellers in Solihull say residents.

A number of parks have recently been targeted by travellers including Tudor Grange Park where Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council (SMBC) is currently working with police to move them on, after they ignored an eviction notice.

But Silhillians are fed-up of the constant battle to evict unauthorised encampments from the town’s green spaces after the group set up camp in Tudor Grange Park again this week.

Resident Colin Brittle said: “Why and how are they allowed to get away with this? Why isn’t life made more difficult for them when they are breaking and entering areas they have no legal right to?

“The police say that they cannot prove that the travellers gained access to the park illegally. However once they drive their cars off the park, to go about their daily business, would it not be appropriate to repair the broken barrier and leave a policeman on site to ensure that they could not re-enter the park illegally? Surely this would make their stay untenable and encourage them to move. Also, the absence of traffic wardens on the car park in question was noticeable on Sunday (September 24).”

The angry resident claimed he and his wife were verbally abused and threatened with violence as they walked passed the park, while looking at the mess around the encampment.

He added “When will the council and the police get tough with these people and make their stays here as difficult as possible so they do not wish to come back?”

The issue of travellers across the borough has been ongoing for months, with camps being evicted from a number of locations over the summer.

They have included Shirley Park, Richmond Road Playing Fields, Streetsbrook Road and Woodside Way and more recently Tudor Grange Park, Hillfields Park and Brueton Park.

The council has asked residents to report any anti-social or criminal behaviour to the police to build up evidence against the group to present at court.

Information on its site reads: “We understand residents would like them moved on as soon as possible.

“However, when these are on public or council owned land we have a legal duty to ensure we follow the correct process to move them on.

“In some cases it is not necessary to embark on a formal legal process as we can reach an agreement with the travelling community to leave by a certain date.

“Unfortunately, in most cases we will need to pursue a process that is defined in law and we follow this as quickly as we can within the legal framework.”

MP Julian Knight recently launched a petition – signed by nearly 4,000 residents – calling on the council for a more effective immediate response and a better long-term strategy to protect Solihull’s open spaces.

Mr Knight said: “I hope that we can learn from how other communities have tackled this challenge and ensure that the holidays pass more smoothly next year.

“The council is currently conducting a review into how it responds to incursions, and I have submitted my own research for consideration.”

Neighbouring Warwick District Council recently started a £170,000 project to step-up security at its car parks, parks and open spaces in an effort to prevent unauthorised access.

There has also been a Warwickshire-wide review of how the police and district councils can work together to tackle unauthorised encampments as quickly as possible.

Visit to sign the petition.

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