Council gets tough on travellers

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Milton Keynes Council has promised to clamp down on unauthorised traveller encampments across the borough.

Senior representatives from the council, Thames Valley Police and the Parks Trust recently held a summit to discuss how best to minimise both the number of unauthorised encampments in Milton Keynes, and the need for major clean up operations.

Councillor Peter Geary, the Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “We’ve recently seen a surge in illegal encampments springing up across MK, with tonnes of associated rubbish, including a lot of trade waste, ending up on these sites. For example, sheets of asbestos were left behind at the popular beauty spot, the Blue Lagoon in Bletchley.”

Pictured above is one unauthorised encampment on a small green area close to the junction of Snelshall Street and Standing Way in Tattenhoe, where nearby residents have complained about an increase of litter in the area.

“We will crack down on unauthorised encampments and keep our green open spaces looking attractive,” added Councillor Geary.

“We will not accept anyone destroying our local environment and take all steps to stop this happening.”

Detective Superintendent Barry Halliday, Local Police Area Commander for Milton Keynes, said: “We will tackle any illegal encampments robustly, working closely with key partner agencies to insure these do not cause a significant impact on the local communities affected.

“We will respond swiftly to any illegal encampments and those within them that are committing crime and anti social behaviour. To manage this we have increased police resources within a joint illegal encampment task force working closely with Milton Keynes Council to act swiftly to legally remove any such encampments in the MK area. This team will monitor and co-ordinate interventions and where possible bring those who are offending to account.

“Our message in Milton Keynes is clear to those who look towards this area with a view of setting up illegal encampments, we will use the all the legislation available to us, to stop and evict you from land which you have no right to be on. If you commit criminal offences we will work to secure evidence and arrest you.

“I would like to thank and continue to encourage any residents that do witness any criminal activity, see a illegal encampment starting to set up, to call us on 101.”

Rob Riekie, Head of Operations at The Parks Trust, said: “The Parks Trust has had illegal encampments on a number of areas of parkland including Willen Lake, Great Linford, Shenley Wood, Bancroft and Linford Wood. One of the big frustrations for us is that we seem to be chasing these encampments from site to site within Milton Keynes.

“Dealing with these issues takes our staff away from their day to day work of caring for the parks, whilst repairing the damage caused and clearing huge amounts of rubbish puts a strain on our budget. It’s also very inconvenient for our regular park users. As a self-financing charity the additional work, the nuisance and the expense is an unwelcome drain on our resources.”