Burnham-On-Sea MP James Heappey has this week joined forces with dozens of other MPs to encourage the Government to adopt the ‘Irish law’ on travellers.
If this law is implemented, then deliberate trespassing would become a criminal offence and could be dealt with by the police, with the support of local authorities.
Mr Heappey has been campaigning for tougher laws on travellers following a number of incidents in the Wells constituency, including the Burnham area.
Over the past two years, there have been illegal encampments in Berrow, Highbridge and routinely in the car parks of Burnham-On-Sea, as well as in Brean.
Mr Heappey and a number of supporting MPs have this week written to James Brokenshire MP, Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government, asking for consideration of this proposal to give local authorities – and the police – additional powers to tackle the problem.
Speaking to Burnham-On-Sea.com, Mr Heappey said: “Travellers in the Wells constituency have cost local councils thousands of pounds as a result of legal action, as well as clear-up operations following anti-social behaviour.”
“In Somerset we have had far too many illegal encampments. The Irish Law has proven very successful and I would like to see it – or something similar here.”
Several travellers pitched up at Highbridge’s Apex Park in April, as pictured above, when large amounts of rubbish were left behind.
Burnham-On-Sea.com reported here last week that Sedgemoor District Council has spent more than £5,400 in the past two years removing people camping illegally on its land.
The authority published the figures and new details of its procedure for removing travellers from ‘unauthorised encampments’. A report was considered at its corporate scrutiny committee on Tuesday (June 12th).
The council has pledged to provide more authorised travellers sites in the district to reduce the number of illegal encampments and the cost to taxpayers of dealing with them.
Between April 23rd, 2016 and May 30th, 2018, the council had to deal with 16 illegal encampments – five in the last eight months of 2016, eight in 2017 and three in 2018 to date.