Unauthorised traveller encampments are a nuisance for local communities and a completely inappropriate use of open space — whether it is highway land, Ministry of Defence land, school fields or otherwise. People are rightly frustrated at the length of time processes seem to take within the law.
While it was the last Conservative government — back in 1994 — that ensured some powers exist for local authorities and the police to deal with unauthorised traveller encampments, it is time to bring those powers up to date, to tackle the problems that people are facing today.
As I said in Parliament, “We do have discrimination in this country, not against Travellers and Gypsies, given the number of advocates they clearly have on the Opposition Benches, but against the hard-working, honest residents of communities up and down the land, the silent majority and too often the forgotten people.”
There is not a level playing field and something must be done. This petition aims to do just that and I would strongly urge you to sign it, then share it — with your neighbours, friends and family.
It urges HM Government to strengthen police powers by giving the police the power to direct trespassers to leave simply because of trespassing — and before damage, abuse or six vehicles occurs. It calls on the government to strengthen Section 62A of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 also. Currently, police can direct travellers to leave an unauthorised site if there is a suitable pitch provided by the council elsewhere in Hampshire. The petition calls on the government to allow council pitches within 25 miles — even if this requires crossing the county boundary. And, as many travellers submit retrospective planning applications for unauthorised building work, the petition calls for “a presumption against illegal encampments whereby appellants cannot be resident while appealing”.