Councillor calls on PM for powers to tackle travellers

A COUNCIL leader is set to call on our new prime minister as he bids to tackles an upsurge in traveller's visits to a borough.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 2nd August 2016, 6:00 am
Travellers at the Wicor recreation ground in Portchester at the end of May
Travellers at the Wicor recreation ground in Portchester at the end of May

Fareham Borough Council’s leader Councillor Sean Woodward is set to draw up a dossier along with Hampshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane to show the cost of dealing with travellers using public land in Fareham.

Cllr Woodward and Mr Lane are calling for prime minister Theresa May and Home Secretary Amber Rudd to make trespassing illegal, thereby, giving the borough council the power to arrest travellers if they do not move from their land.

Cllr Woodward said: ‘We want the government to change the law to make trespassing a criminal offence.

‘Hopefully now that we’ve got a new prime minister who is tough on crime, we could see it being brought forward.’

Trespassing on somebody else’s land is a civil offence, so councils can bring a claim against travellers through the civil courts.

According to Cllr Woodward, travellers using public land as campsites ends up costing the council ‘tens of thousands of pounds’ and that this year has seen an escalation in the cost.

He said: ‘This year, it’s been very difficult and has led to the council working very hard in order to evict them.’

Travellers have set up camp in Stubbington, Fareham and Portchester over the summer.

A group of about sixteen caravans had to be moved off fields by Locks Heath shopping village yesterday by police after three days.

Cllr Woodward added: ‘It is nothing against the travellers but public land is public land and they leave appalling mess behind them.

Mr Lane said: ‘Many travellers are law-abiding, but a small number are disproportionately disruptive to the communities they visit, and this must stop. The law and processes surrounding this should be reviewed.

‘If a change in law is required, then this is something I would campaign for and support others to do.’