DIFFERENCES in approaches to dealing with traveller and gypsy encampments will be the target of the latest BCP Council harmonisation work.

Policies adopted by the three former local authorities towards dealing with sites and attempts to prevent incursions varied significantly.

And next week the council’s cabinet will be asked to form a cross-party working group to consider a unified approach to dealing with the issue.

Between 2016 and 2018, 145 incursions were recorded on local authority land across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

More were reported in Poole (80) than the other two towns combined.

The issue will be considered by the council’s cabinet when it meets on Wednesday, October 9.

“Separate and distinct policies evolved across Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset for addressing unauthorised encampments on local authority land,” a report published ahead of the meeting says.

“The policies differ considerably in terms of site management, target-hardening and legal process, albeit a single risk assessment approach now operates across BCP.”

Bournemouth council used civil legal processes through the county court to obtain evictions while magistrates’ courts were used in the other two towns.

Poole council would also more frequently provide skips and portable toilets to travellers, aimed at limiting clean-up work after they left.

There were also variations in approaches to creating physical barriers to council-owned land to prevent incursions.

“The complexity of disparate and often contrasting policy options would best be considered by a specific member working group that could develop a consolidated policy with future options,” the report adds.

“There are challenges to development of a single BCP policy in view of the existing, divergent policies.

“Emerging policies around pre-emptive injunctions, exploration of the benefits of a transit site or temporary stopping place and likely legislative changes need to be considered.”

As a result, councillors will be asked to approve the formation of a working group to consider a new unified approach when they meet on Wednesday.

It is recommended that it is chaired by the cabinet member for environment, councillor Felicity Rice, and be made up by as many as 11 councillors.