Quicker traveller evictions urged

The government has urged local councils to act more quickly to shut down illegal traveller sites. It's hoped the move will prevent another situation like Dale Farm in Basildon, which was only cleared after years of legal wrangling.

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Illegal traveller sites 'should be cleared more quickly'

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.


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Pickles: Travellers do not need more sites

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.

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.

– Eric Pickles, Minister for Communities and Local Government
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Councils 'take swift action against illegal camps'

The Local Government Association (LGA) has said councils already take swift action against illegal traveller camps, and provide sites and services for traveller communities.

An illegal traveller encampment inside the grounds of Eton college back in 2002. Credit: Press Association

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.”

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Gypsy Council: Open season on ethnic minorities

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.


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Government releases guide on how to evict travellers

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.

Local councils are expected to get more powers to evict travellers. Credit: PA

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"

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Councils 'do not need more powers' to evict travellers

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.

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.

– Jake Bower Romany journalist
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