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10-Point Plan in Place to Stop Travellers

A package of new measures will make it more difficult for travellers to stay on council-owned land in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

The Council and Staffordshire Police have agreed a 10-point action plan to strengthen their working relationship when it comes to tackling unauthorised encampments in the borough.

Council Leader Simon Tagg met with Chief Inspector Pete Owen and Matthew Ellis, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire, yesterday to discuss more opportunities for enhanced partnership working at a local level with the aim of speeding up the eviction process.

It comes after the Council led on work to evict a succession of camps in recent weeks.

At the heart of the revised plan is closer working on the ground between council officers and the police on new camps, including joint visits where possible, as well as on community reassurance messages and progress reports.

There will be more police evaluation of encampments to consider use of immediate removal powers which are available if significant criminal damage or serious anti-social behaviour is caused.

The Council will continue to work quickly to serve initial notices and secure the earliest court hearing date to apply for eviction orders. It is recognised that a strict legal process has to be followed in order to organise a successful eviction.

The partners have also agreed to press local MP Paul Farrelly to respond to calls for changes to traveller laws and to support any legislative changes which may come from Parliament in the future.

Council Leader Simon Tagg said: “Unauthorised traveller encampments in the borough cause considerable unrest in communities just like they do across the country.

“The Council has a zero tolerance approach to illegal encampments, as a landowner, and even though we are restricted to a great extent by the law, I am pleased we have managed to identify some ways our partnership processes can be tightened up to try and make Newcastle less attractive to travellers.”

The protocol for dealing with unauthorised gypsy and traveller encampments – a document for managing incursions – will continue to be used and refined. The Leader and Matthew Ellis are writing to other district councils in Staffordshire, and Stoke-on-Trent City Council, recommending adoption of a similar protocol.

Both parties pledged to work with local communities to protect their green spaces. Measures such as the wooden posts that are in the process of being installed at Wolstanton Marsh, or barriers and gates will be considered on a rolling programme. Some funding for this will be made available from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Proceeds of Crime fund.

Last updated 26 June 2018