A BOURNEMOUTH MP angered by the “intimidating” and “offensive” behaviour from travellers in Bournemouth is calling for changes in the law to shut down illegal encampments faster.
After receiving dozens of complaints about travellers at Slades Farm, Conor Burns, MP for Bournemouth West, has called for a collaboration between neighbouring authorities to introduce a permanent site in the region.
The call comes after the group at Slades Farm, who left on Thursday evening, reportedly urinated in the woods, left heaps of rubbish across the ground and intimidated security staff.
- Travellers leave 'considerable' amount of rubbish at Slades Farm
“I want to see the law tightened,” he said.
“I want to see the government get on and do what the government said in 2011 that it would do, which is to remove the requirement on a unitary authority like Bournemouth to have their own site before they can move them on and look for Bournemouth to have a collaborative arrangement with Dorset, Christchurch or Poole so we can have a facility that allows the council and the police immediately to move to get them off site, rather than having to go through this expensive and time consuming process to get to the point of eviction.”
On Thursday the MP criticized the police and the council saying more needed to be done to prevent travellers from intimidating council staff and local residents.
He said: “Security guards are sitting in their cars and doing nothing.
“The police could do a lot more than they are at the moment. The police were just driving around. What use is that to anyone?”
Earlier in the day he had called the camp an "insult to law abiding tax payers" in a tweet.
Speaking at Slades Farm on Thursday evening, the leader of Bournemouth Borough Council Cllr John Beesley said the council was “very confined” by the law on how it deals with illegal encampments.
Branding the behaviour of some of the travellers at the site as “disgusting”, Cllr Beasley said the council had acted quickly to evict the group, who were served with an eviction order yesterday.
He said the biggest problem the council faced was preventing future encampments.
He said: “The lockdown mechanism we employ is one where we do everything people could possibly be expected to do to prevent illegal incursions but we have got so much open space and so many open car parks that we could never safeguard all of them at one time.
“What we can do is safeguard the majority of them and employ security when we need it.”
A spokesman for the travellers said if a permanent site was introduced, the group would go their “gladly”.
He said: “Give us a permanent site and we will pull up on it.”
DORSET POLICE RESPONSE
A statement issued by Dorset Police said: “As in all cases, it is the landowners responsibility, in this case Bournemouth Borough Council, to take the lead on managing unauthorised encampments.
“Dorset Police is responsible for any crime-related issues and community engagement between unauthorised encampments and the resident community.
“The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 does provide police with powers to deal with unauthorised encampments, but only where exceptional criteria are met.
“In broad terms, these are contingent upon damage and/or the commission of crime and where there is significant impact on the local community or user of the land.
“Police and local authorities have clear protocols relating to unauthorised encampments and, irrespective of whether statutory powers apply, work closely together to support landowners in exercising their common law rights, preventing crime and anti-social behaviour from taking place.”
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