September 23, 2017
Burnham-On-Sea's MP to meet Minister to discuss travellers issue

Burnham-On-Sea's MP has confirmed he is set to met with the Communities Secretary to discuss how the government can better tackle illegal traveller sites across the area.

As first reported here, James Heappey brought up the issue in the House of Commons during last week's Prime Minister’s Questions.

He will meet with the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid to discuss the matter.

While no date has yet been set for the MP to meet him, Mr Heappey is asking local residents, parish councils and local authorities to share their views with him on the matter beforehand.

Mr Heappey told this week: "This has become such an important issue locally with many people angry at what they perceive to be one rule for travellers and another for everyone else."

"I’m glad the Prime Minister has agreed to look at this. The correct process costs local taxpayers too much and it takes too long to enforce."

Mr Heappey says he held a meeting with key Government departments, Avon and Somerset Police and local councils last year to better understand what more can be done within existing powers to tackle the problem.

He has already raised the issue in Parliament. In his question to the Prime Minister he asked that more is done to make the process quicker and cheaper for local authorities.

He asked the Prime Minister: "Residents in communities across the Wells Constituency have been angered this summer by a seemingly endless stream of illegal traveller encampments. Will the Prime Minister look at what more Government could do to help local authorities close these illegal encampments more quickly and at less cost to local taxpayers."

The Prime Minister said that she recognised the frustration that illegal encampments cause and has asked the Communities Secretary to look at the matter further.

She said: "He has raised an important issue. It is not an issue that is unique to his constituency of Wells. It is felt by many members across this house and we are concerned about unauthorised encampments and the effect that they have when they leave communities. There is a wide range of powers available to both local authorities and police. We want to see them working together and with local landowners but we do keep these matters under review and I’m sure my Right Honourable Friend the Communities Secretary will be happy to meet with my honourable friend to discuss this."

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