Portsmouth councillor calls for change in law over travellers

MOVED IN Travellers at Zetland Park in Farlington on Saturday
MOVED IN Travellers at Zetland Park in Farlington on Saturday

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A COUNCILLOR has called for a change in the trespass laws after two sets of travellers arrived in Portsmouth.

Simon Bosher, ward city councillor for Drayton and Farlington, says it’s not fair that taxpayers are left to foot the bill for removing travellers when they set up camp.

He spoke out as a group turned up on council-owned land in Farlington.

They arrived in the area on Friday night.

Six caravans and six vehicles parked on the fields of Zetland Park, close to the Sainsbury’s superstore in Fitzherbert Road.

And up to five caravans were seen on private land in Nevil Shute Road, on the old MFI car park in Anchorage Park.

Cllr Bosher said: ‘They arrived late on Friday. I went down there first thing on Saturday and had a look. It appears that they have broken their way in.

‘The council is fully aware of it.

‘The police are stepping up their profile in the area.

‘It’s near an industrial estate which, generally speaking, isn’t open at the weekend.

‘They have done it late on a Friday night knowing full well that they have got at least two clear days before the council starts the eviction process.

‘They have broken on to public land and yet again it’s the council taxpayer that will bear the brunt of it.

‘My advice to residents would be “please keep on your guard”.’

An officer from the council was told by the travellers that they were in the area for a wedding.

Cllr Bosher said he feels something needs to be done to prevent travellers from turning up in the future.

‘Local authorities are always at a disadvantage when we get traveller encampments,’ he said.

‘They cost the taxpayer an awful lot of money in legal fees to remove them and then on clean-up costs and any damage that might have been created.

‘We seriously need to look at the law being changed to make trespassing a criminal offence.

‘The law-abiding citizens are going to find themselves with additional costs to their council tax.

‘Why should people who want to enjoy their amenities be blighted by traveller communities that have no regard for the law?’