HAMPSHIRE County Council has changed its policy to make it easier to evict gypsies and travellers from illegal sites.
Following a review of its procedures the council has decided in future to take quicker steps to deal with unauthorised encampments.
The council will now apply through the magistrates’ courts to reclaim land in an attempt to minimise the impact on the local community and residents.
It believes this will be faster than going through the civil courts, because a hearing could previously take up to 21 days to secure. Informal negotiations and the welfare checks that are required by law will continue to run alongside this magistrates’ court process.
Each year there are around 60 illegal encampments on council land, involving between 150 and 200 individual caravans. The council said the annual average legal and clean-up cost incurred to remove these encampments has been around £26,300.
Leader of the council, Cllr Ken Thornber, said: ‘We are fully aware that illegal encampments can result in nuisance and cost to the taxpayer; in legal terms as well as the clean-up costs, therefore the sooner that the eviction process is completed, the better.’