Traveller evictions cost Sutton Council over £15,000 in the last three years

Council counts the cost of traveller evictions

Council counts the cost of traveller evictions

First published in News Sutton Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Removing travellers from illegal camps is costing the council thousands of pounds every year in legal costs, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

Sutton Council has removed travellers from illegal camps in Beddington Park, Mellows Park, High Street Carshalton Car Park, Roundshaw Park and Cheam Resource Centre on 14 occasions since May at a cost of more than £4,000 in legal fees alone. Travellers were evicted from sites in Sutton five times in May and three times in four days in August.

The council spent £9,168 clearing 16 illegal encampments between May 2011 and May 2012 and £1,420 clearing seven camps the year before.

Councillor Jill Whitehead, chairwoman of the environment and neighbourhood committee said: "Each traveller encampment is different and has to be treated according to a number of issues including location, as different areas will have different protection.

"The council will use all relevant legislation to move on illegal encampments within a few days while meeting our safeguarding, welfare and legal obligations working with groups including legal officers, police, the courts, and the travellers themselves.

"There are several steps which every local authority has to take in these situations, including checking on the welfare of any children or vulnerable people involved. We are however, working proactively to prevent illegal camps being set up including the use of bollards for various parkland sites.

"We understand how frustrating these incidents can be for residents, which is why we always make full use of our powers to encourage illegally camped groups to move on.

"The legal process, which every council must use, does take a few days, so we are also looking at ways to discourage groups from setting up camps in parks in the first place."

Last year the council spent £4,800 at Roundshaw Park to stop encroachment from the Croydon side of the site and this year it spent more than £3,000 on soil banks at Mellows Park. 

Coun Whitehead added: "The council is required to make provision and respond to the needs of the travelling community but we recognise that some traveller activities can cause concern to local residents.

"Officers will offer advice to landowners who have suffered an encampment, and the local police offer crime prevention advice which would include making premises less susceptible to encampments."

Comments (3)

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9:46am Fri 9 Nov 12

Michael Pantlin says...

National law should be made requiring "the travelling community" to be licensed to be legal. To get a licence they should have to sign up to rules of behaviour such as not squatting in parks or public facilities or leaving rubbish. Breach of licence conditions could then result in points on the licence and the crushing of the caravans and vehicles after a certain number of points.
National law should be made requiring "the travelling community" to be licensed to be legal. To get a licence they should have to sign up to rules of behaviour such as not squatting in parks or public facilities or leaving rubbish. Breach of licence conditions could then result in points on the licence and the crushing of the caravans and vehicles after a certain number of points. Michael Pantlin
  • Score: 0

9:54am Fri 9 Nov 12

Giles C says...

Michael and then what happens?
Where do they go and who will pay the bill to look after them...
No easy answers here.
Michael and then what happens? Where do they go and who will pay the bill to look after them... No easy answers here. Giles C
  • Score: 0

4:46pm Fri 9 Nov 12

Michael Pantlin says...

Councils could set the licence fee to cover the costs of evictions, care and temprary parking space Councils are good at that. There is a concurrent article about a couple being charged a lot of money just to get their beloved dog back after he disappeared for ten minutes in Nonsuch Park and their spokesperson justifying it to avoid the cost falling on taxpayers. If a bit more room is needed there is always the Life Centre looking for reasons to justify it's continuous bail out subsidies.
Councils could set the licence fee to cover the costs of evictions, care and temprary parking space Councils are good at that. There is a concurrent article about a couple being charged a lot of money just to get their beloved dog back after he disappeared for ten minutes in Nonsuch Park and their spokesperson justifying it to avoid the cost falling on taxpayers. If a bit more room is needed there is always the Life Centre looking for reasons to justify it's continuous bail out subsidies. Michael Pantlin
  • Score: 0

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