MP calls for tougher laws on moving travellers
James Heappey has urged the Government to introduce tougher planning
laws for travellers during a debate in Parliament this week.
traveller groups set up sites in the area over the summer, including
at Burnham's BASC Ground, and in Burnham's Pier Street car park,
and on Berrow Village Green.
the Commons debate, he said that it is "absolutely nuts"
that members of the travelling community can park illegally and
not incur a fine.
also labelled the processes that district councils have to go through
to move unwanted travellers on as "money poured down the drain".
said: "What the travelling community need to understand is
that there are legal travellers pitches for them to use, and if
there aren't enough left in a certain county, then that county is
full, and they need to go on somewhere else until there is a pitch
are traveller pitches within Somerset, it is not the full time residents
of Somerset who are at fault for the fact that Somerset appears
to be a popular place for travellers to visit."
is it that Somerset should provide an unlimited number of pitches
to meet that demand?"
said: "The travellers are very, very well informed about what
their legal rights are and what the timelines are for putting in
place all of the various legal processes."
that means is that they tend to leave on the final day, before they
themselves would have either broken the law or be required to incur
some legal costs of their own."
means that all of this money is being poured down the drain by our
district councils trying to get rid of these illegal encampments,
only in the end for them to move on because the time has come and
they don't want to incur any cost themselves."
think that government needs to have a really good look at this legal
process that they have put in place which means that councils have
to spend a few thousand pounds every time, to go through a process
that is guaranteed to last at least two to three weeks."
travellers know that it takes that long, and it is a game of whack-a-mole,
because as soon as the legal process is just about to come into
effect the travellers move on and the money is wasted."
called on the government to create a much quicker legal process,
that costs councils nothing.
cannot continue to have this process where they are setting up illegal
encampments, and our legal process is so cumbersome that they are
guaranteed two to three weeks of being able to stay there, before
the legal process comes into effect and they are moved on."
Heappey said afterwards: "It was an excellent debate, well
supported by MPs whose constituencies have been similarly affected
by illegal encampments. Given all the challenges we have had this
summer in Burnham and Berrow, it was well worth having this debate.
the Government recognises just how frustrating this issue is and
has reassured me policies are under review."