Pickles tells councils to clamp down on illegal traveller camps
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing
Search begins to identify traveller pitches
Eric Pickles has told local authorities to clamp down on illegal encampments and unauthorised traveller sites.
The local government secretary said a new guide would give more power to residents and councillors to challenge officials if they claim that nothing can be done about illegal sites.
According to the Department for Communities and Local Government, the summary of legal powers that has been sent to all council leaders shows how local authorities can act quickly, setting out the "robust powers" councils and landowners now have to remove unauthorised traveller sites, protest camps and squatters from both public and private land.
The DCLG said that councils "merely need the political will to uphold the law".
Pickles said: "I want all councils to be ready to take action straightaway to stop illegal camps and unauthorised sites starting in the first place. Decisive action early on saves money and unnecessary upset for local residents.
"We’ve strengthened councils’ powers so they have the confidence to take decisive action. Too often, council officers wash their hands, and say nothing can be done. This is not the case.
"The public want to see fair play, with planning rules enforced consistently, rather than special treatment being given to certain groups."
The Department says that councils should be "ready to take swift enforcement action and use the tough powers available to tackle rogue encampments and sites". Powers that can be used include:
- More powerful temporary stop notices to stop and remove unauthorised caravans
- Pre-emptive injunctions that protect vulnerable land in advance from unauthorised encampments
- Possession orders to remove trespassers from land
- Police powers to order unauthorised campers to leave land
- Powers of entry onto land so authorised officers can obtain information for enforcement purposes
- Demand further information on planning works to determine whether any breach of the rules has taken place
- Enforcement notices to remedy any planning breaches
- Ensuring sites have valid caravan or tent site licences