New guidelines for councils to tackle illegal traveller sites have been issued, to try and prevent another incident like Dale Farm.
Fire crews tackled blaze at block of flats in Basildon yesterday afternoon
Dozens of families have contacted ITV London over the treatment of their loved ones at Basildon Hospital.
Councils have been told to act faster to shut down illegal traveller sites, to prevent a repeat of another situation like Dale Farm.
The clearance by bailiffs in Essex ended in violent clashes and came after an expensive 10-year legal battle.
Today, Brentwood MP and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said authorities were still failing to use powers to stop it happening again.
Ria Chatterjee reports.
Councils must act quicker to shut down illegal traveller sites - like Dale Farm in Essex - according to Brentwood MP and local government secretary Eric Pickles.
He claims that too often authorities say "nothing can be done" about the problem and fail to use the powers available to them.
Ria Chatterjee has the story.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has said councils already take swift action against illegal traveller camps, and provide sites and services for traveller communities.
Responding to the new guide issued for councils to enable them to take swifter action against illegal encampments, an LGA spokesperson said:
"Councils across the country are providing authorised legitimate sites and services for travelling communities.
“People who live nearby need to be given a say on whether land is appropriate for travellers, and that is precisely what the planning process is there to do.
“Local authorities take swift and robust action against anyone who breaks the rules by setting up camp on land without permission.”
The government has been accused of reinforcing "negative stereotypes" about travellers by the chairman of the Gypsy Council. Speaking on Sky News he said the new guide for councils contained no new information and accused the government of grandstanding:
It's creating tension, it's a negative thing to do. At the moment it seems like a theme. Recently we have had the Go Home campaign, then we have the bongo bongo thing going on.
It seems like open season on ethnic minorities.
Local authorities already know how to manage unauthorised encampments, they don't need the Government to tell them how to do it.
Travellers do not need more sites in the UK as these were already provided for in the local development plan, the Communities and Local Government Minister told Daybreak.
Eric Pickles dismissed accusations that his new policy, Temporary Stop Notices, exacerbated tensions with travellers by imposing unlimited fines on them for refusing to move if evicted.
– Eric Pickles, Minister for Communities and Local Government
It is part of a local development plan to provide sites. But that does not mean that in the same way as we would be down on a householder who decides to build on green belt, we would be down on a householder who decides to occupy public land and we are not going to treat travellers in a different way.
Councils do not need more powers to move travellers on if they are causing problems, Romany journalist Jake Bower told Daybreak.
More safe sites for travellers to set up a temporary community in needed to be built if the two communities were to live peacefully side-by-side, he added.
– Jake Bower Romany journalist
There is not enough sites for people, so people are forced to park on places [like playing fields] so you have a culture that is brought into conflict....
What I would like to see the government do is less of the whip and more of the carrot. They can only solve this problem if they build....councils have more powers than they need to move travellers on.
It is making a moral case and a legal case.
A new guide reminding local councils and land owners on how to deal with traveller encampments trespassing on someone else's land has been released by the Government.
The guide book includes advice on new Temporary Stop orders, which give councils power to tackle unauthorised caravans, backed up by potentially unlimited fines.
The Local Government and Communities department decided to release the book after 2011's Occupy movement brought into focus the difference between a peaceful protest and "the disruptive impact of the illegal occupation of land"
An investigation is underway to find out what caused a fire at a block of flats in Essex, which has left four families homeless.
A woman had to be rescued during the blaze at Bockingham Green in Basildon. It spread from one of the flats to two neighbouring ones yesterday afternoon.