Plans are being made to tackle the increasing problem of unauthorised Gypsy and traveller encampments in the Warwick District which “reached a crescendo” recently.
One idea is to spend £174,000 Over the past four years there have been 39 unauthorised encampments on 11 of the council’s sites, totalling 304 days, for an average of about eight days each time.
Since 2008, Newbold Comyn has been the most common site for the encampments with 16 being set up over the years - with eight of those being in 2016 and five in 2015. In this time, Hampton Road in Warwick has had nine, including three last year,
This is, however, only part of the picture as there were other encampments on land not owned by the council in 2016 bringing the total to above 45 last year alone.
Overall Warwick district now experiences the highest level of unauthorised encampments in Warwickshire.
Along with expressing the need for the district council to “develop even closer working relationships with the police, county council and other agencies” and to “resolve the situation regarding the provision of sites, permanent and transit” council officers have also suggested the authority should spend up to £174,000 from its community project reserves on preventative measures on its own sites.
Last week, council leader Cllr Andrew Mobbs said he “shared the frustrations” of residents over unauthorised encampments and assured them the authority would be acting on the issue in the coming weeks
Next week, Warwick District Council will discuss a report which ‘recognises the impact on residents of the behaviours of some groups making unauthorised encampments and the expectation on the authority and its partner organisations to do all it reasonably can to prevent crime and disorder whilst also recognising the rights of the gypsy and traveller communities’.
The report has been made in response to the increase in frequency of unauthorised encampments in the area and the recent incursions over the Christmas and New Year holidays.
It sets out a new approach to address the issues caused by the encampments.
It says: “The situation reached something of a crescendo over the recent Christmas and New Year break in Warwick. It is clear that while officers did everything that they could as quickly as they could, there were no preventative measures in place to deter the unauthorised encampments and the inability to get a court date earlier than January 10, meant ultimately that the powers of the police had to be relied upon.
“Fortunately, the good liaison between the council and the police meant that this was possible. However, for the local community, the perception was that both the council and the police were inactive and not dealing with the issue.
“There is, therefore, a need to be able to make the public and local community aware of what powers the council and police actually do have in such situations, so that expectations can be appropriately set.”
“In addition, efforts are to be made to secure quicker access to the courts as a matter of routine.”