Travellers cost councils more than £15,000 over battle to move them on

Travellers in Dunsbury Park, Havant. Picture: Sarah Standing (080819-2820)
Travellers in Dunsbury Park, Havant. Picture: Sarah Standing (080819-2820)
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TRAVELLERS have cost thousands of pounds in legal and clean-up fees as councils battle to move them on.

Just yesterday people living in around 15-20 caravans were being challenged by Portsmouth City Council after they set up on land at Dunsbury Park in Havant.

Travellers in Dunsbury Park, Havant. Picture: Sarah Standing (080819-2816)

Travellers in Dunsbury Park, Havant. Picture: Sarah Standing (080819-2816)

The action comes as Havant Borough Council has been forced to go to magistrates nine times in four weeks asking for orders to clear up encampments.

Overall the borough authority has tackled 14 incursions since May 21 with a cost of £15,000 in legal, clean-up and salary costs.

Portsmouth’s council legal team had to go to court once in recent weeks but withdrew its request for an order after travellers moved on at Zetland Field, off Eastern Road in Farlington.

Enforcement officers and police have been left playing an expensive game of cat and mouse, chasing travellers from place to place - with seven sites used in Havant, West Leigh and Bedhampton.

Havant borough council leader Michael Wilson told The News: ‘I’d rather we didn’t have to spend that money on legal action and officer time on it but we just have to follow the procedures and it’s a well-trodden path.

‘There are organised areas (for travellers) and it’s a complicated area of law in terms of how we deal with travellers when they arrive in the borough and over time we’ve developed a particular procedure which we’re invoking.’

It comes after traveller Simon Quilligan, 36, was caught with an air rifle in Jubilee Park on July 15. He denies firing the weapon and Portsmouth magistrates will hear evidence before he is sentenced on October 4.

Tyres, car seats, charred wood and other rubbish was left dumped at Hampshire Farm Meadows, off Skylark Avenue, in Emsworth, after an encampment left.

Hampshire police were informed about the Dunsbury Park group arriving on Wednesday night.

Fareham’s council has spent £200 on cleaning up encampments so far this summer.

Leader Sean Woodward said the problem came with cleaning up, having to send in officers in ‘protective clothing to remove human faeces from parks and open spaces’.

He said the authority had put in extra bollards to protect Stubbington Green and Fort Fareham.

There have been none in Gosport.

Dunsbury Park is owned by the city council. A spokesman said: ‘A Portsmouth City Council spokesperson said: ‘We're working urgently with colleagues at Havant Borough Council to deal with this situation.’