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'We must ban travellers from site after third camp in two months'

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A COURT order is needed to ban travellers from a site they've pitched up at three times in eight weeks.

This is the view of Labour councillor Paul Smith, who is urging the council to seek a court injunction covering the open land in Mayfield Road, Thornton Heath, enabling it to take swift legal action to remove travellers and prosecute them for invading the land.

The council has agreed to take a tough stance against specific groups of travellers who have been moving around the borough camping illegally.

It is gathering evidence which it will present to the High Court, seeking an injunction against these travellers.

Breaching any injunction would be an arrestable offence.

The council took the step after it revealed it had to deal with 83 illegal camps in the last year.

The total bill for removing the travellers and clearing up after these encampments came to £128,000.

Cllr Smith believes the authority has a wider opportunity to prevent a return by gaining an injunction relating specifically to Mayfield Road.

He has written to Simon Hoar, the council's cabinet member for community safety and protection asking him to investigate the injunction possibilities.

Cllr Smith told the Advertiser: "As I understand it, an injunction can be sought on a particular site if it can be proved that it is particularly vulnerable.

"This latest camp is the third one in Mayfield Road since the beginning of June and, quite frankly, if this isn't a site for an injunction I can't believe anywhere else will be."

The latest group of travellers moved onto the site at the end of the July and moved on Tuesday after the council got a temporary court order.

Cllr Smith said: "They had been there for 11 or 12 days and that is too long."

Council leader Mike Fisher said the local authority would look closely at any ways of ridding the borough of illegal camp sites quickly.

Councillor Fisher said: "What we are doing with injunctions is fairly Draconian and if we are going to be successful we have got to make sure we have dotted all the Is and crossed all the Ts before going to court.

"We have to have a weight of evidence behind us."

Cllr Fisher added: "We will look at any reasonable measures to remove these people. They often leave behind a mess which is a danger to health and they cause a lot of upset to residents."

Cllr Hoar said injunctions could be "site specific" but it would be a complicated process.

He says targeting individual groups of travellers is a better way of dealing with the problem.

'We must ban travellers from site after third camp in two months'


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