Travellers encamp illegally on Southsea Common for second time this summer as councillors call for more powers to remove them

COUNCILLORS are clamouring for more powers as travellers encamp on Southsea Common for the second time this summer.

Monday, 27th June 2022, 7:46 pm
Travellers on Southsea Common  with the Royal Naval memorial, behind
Travellers on Southsea Common with the Royal Naval memorial, behind

Clusters of parked caravans were spotted this morning on the common and Pembroke Gardens.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, has called on the government to make processes of removing them easier.

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Travellers at the Old Portsmouth end of Southsea Common

He told The News: ‘The council will go to court as always to stop illegal encampments.

‘The unfortunate thing is the government will not give us the same powers as private landowners, to be able to get rid of illegal encampments quicker.

‘If it is private land, the illegal encampments can be removed much much faster.

‘I do not understand why the government thinks people using Southsea Common, which is really valuable public space, is less important than on private land.’

Portsmouth County Council is liaising with police, and has begun the legal process to evict the travellers.

Community wardens are currently assessing the site.

Several camps formed on public land in Portsmouth, Fareham, Wickham and Havant last month.

A dozen caravans parked near Blue Reef and Southsea skatepark on May 18.

Mr Vernon-Jackson said if similar encampments crop up on private land, they can be removed within two days, rather than eight to ten in this instance.

He added that in the past, travellers have gotten onto public land by moving obstructions, chopping down posts, or cutting padlocks.

‘We know people have got on by causing criminal damage in the past, yet, the laws which the government enact will not let the council remove them’, the council leader said.

‘It drives me up the wall.’

‘We will go to court as fast as we can, and jump through all the legal hoops the government say we have to as fast as we can to remove them.’

Residents and councillors have become frustrated over travellers camping on public land.

Fareham Borough Council leader Sean Woodward was incensed over caravans parked on Cams Alders Recreation Ground – which blocked children’s football matches.

Councillor Steve Pitt, of Milton ward, said Southsea Common will be recovered for residents.

He added: ‘People gain access to that space despite every effort the council makes to prevent that from happening.

‘When it does happen, we take all the appropriate action to make sure it ends at the earliest opportunity.’