North Somerset Council 'let down' as police fail to move travellers on from Weston seafront

Police say they do not have the significant resource required to move the group on. Credit: BPM Media/Bristol Live

The deputy leader of North Somerset Council says he feels "let down" by police after they did not move on a group of travellers in Weston-super-Mare.

Avon and Somerset Police says the 'threshold for intervention' has not been met - and they do not have the resources to move the group on.

A group of around a dozen caravans arrived in the seaside resort over the weekend.

North Somerset Council deputy leader Councillor Mike Bell said: "They [police] do not believe that the threshold for intervention has been met and do not have the resources for a significant operation to move them on.

"I feel really let down by this lack of support from the police and it really does make you wonder just what the threshold for action is?"

Police will, however, be making increased patrols of the site to monitor behaviour.

North Somerset Council's deputy leader says he feels 'let down' by police. Credit: BPM Media/Bristol Live

North Somerset Council, which owns the Beach Lawns, carried out welfare checks on the group and issued them with a notice to leave.

If the travellers do not leave, the authority, will then have to apply to the magistrates court for an order to evict the travellers.

Mr Bell added: "Unfortunately, failing police intervention, North Somerset Council has to jump through a number of hoops to evict.

"Those on the encampment know the rules too and will no doubt play the system and stay to the last possible minute.

"The Government says it is going to change the law to make it easier to take action, but haven't implemented them yet. So we wait again."

Police say the 'threshold for intervention' has not been met. Credit: BPM Media/Bristol Live

Chief Inspector Jess Aston said trespass is a civil matter and damage must be caused to the land for police to be able to intervene.

Police can however intervene if there are six or more vehicles involved as in this case. Chief Insp Aston said: "Our position is that we would only use our powers when there is significant disruption to the community.

"This is because the physical removal of people carries a heightened risk to the safety of the public and our officers. It also requires considerable police resource."

She said police are facing "high demand" across the force area and any operation to remove the group would divert police officers away from elsewhere.

"We continue to offer our support to the council and will monitor the situation and re-evaluate our position if circumstances change," she added.

Read more: