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Newcastle Borough Council bosses to back plans for county-wide approach to tackling illegal traveller sites

Travellers at Wolstanton Marsh in 2018

Council bosses in Newcastle are to back Staffordshire Police's calls for a county-wide programme to tackle illegal traveller sites.

The authority says that its own work with partners, such as the police, and preventative measures have been successful in reducing them.

It says in 2016 there were 29 unauthorised camps in the borough, and so far this year there has been 11.

The numbers for Council-owned land have also reduced from 14 to eight.

Around half were evicted within three days or less of arrival and the maximum stay was limited to five days.

The council has spent more than £42,000 from it's capital programme for 2019/20 on deterrent measures such as wooden bollards, boulders and reinforced locks at 14 locations.

Wolstanton Marsh has bollards in place, with similar work undertaken at The Butts, Crackley Recreation Ground and Lyme Valley Parkway. Norwich Place and Rydal Way are set to be completed by the end of the year.

Leader of the Council, Simon Tagg, added: “It’s great that our approach to managing illegal encampments realising positive results. An integral part of our work is trying to prevent access to vulnerable locations and we’re doing this where the need arises.

“Wolstanton Marsh is a good example of where this approach has paid off. This lovely public space has been repeatedly targeted in the past but bollards are definitely having an effect. The wooden stumps, introduced with investment by the Council, have significantly reduced the number of traveller incursions this year.”

“We do everything possible within the law to move travellers on as quickly as possible if they do move on to Council land because we recognise this has a considerable effect on residents’ quality of life.”

Cllr. Trevor Johnson, Cabinet member for environment and recycling, said: “Unauthorised traveller encampments cause considerable upset and distress in communities. It’s not just their stay that’s an issue but also the damage caused, the mess left behind and the Council’s costly clean-up operation that follows.

“Our current protocol has significantly improved partnership working and enabled a successful process for eviction to be established, under current legislation, which is no doubt partly linked to the reduction of encampments in the borough in the last three years. This would be further strengthened by a county-wide agreement.”

Newcastle’s Cabinet is set to endorse a county-wide protocol at its meeting tomorrow.

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