Summer of illegal encampments prompts call for temporary traveller site - The Leamington Observer

Summer of illegal encampments prompts call for temporary traveller site

Ian Hughes 24th Aug, 2017   0

CALLS have been made to create a temporary site for travellers in Warwick district following a summer of illegal encampments.

Coun Kristie Naimo, speaking after travellers set up camp on the Eagle Recreation Ground in her Leamington Brunswick ward, said residents had had enough and something urgently needed to be done.

Warwick District Council will soon by law have to provide 31 permanent pitches and six to eight transit pitches for gypsies and travellers.

But Coun Naimo accused council leaders of dragging their feet, and said action was needed now following on-going problems related to illegal encampments in the district over recent months.

Coun Naimo told The Observer “Residents are fed up at not being able to use their open spaces and play areas this summer. Sadly dog walkers and families feel intimidated in their own communities.

“There is also the important point of hygiene which is a major concern in our parks when we have an encampment like this. We don’t have the toilet or litter facilities.

“This summer nearly every ward councillor has seen some sort of illegal encampment in their area and the Conservative council leaders are not taking action.

“The local plan is about to be adopted and we still don’t have any sites in place. We understand it a been challenging to find them but does the district or county council own any land they could allocate. Perhaps in the Europa Way area – even temporarily?”

The district council recently agreed to spend £170,000 heightening security at many of its car-parks, parks and open space in an effort to prevent unauthorised access by travellers. The work is expected to be completed by April.

But Coun Naimo branded this as “a sticking plaster” and not a long-term solution.

While not addressing Coun Naimo’s suggestion for a temporary stop off site, a council spokeswoman told The Observer a meeting was planned next month to start considering options for the locations of the pitches the authority will have to provide.

District council development spokesman Coun Alan Rhead previously said: “I am leading on a district wide initiative with the aim of finding permanent and transit sites to meet the needs of all communities, working closely with parish councils, residents and representatives from the gypsy and traveller community.”

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