Unauthorised Traveller Encampments

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th December 2017.

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Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Conservative, South West Bedfordshire 12:00 am, 4th December 2017

What steps his Department is taking to tackle unauthorised Traveller encampments.

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

As my hon. Friend knows, the Government are concerned about unauthorised encampments and the effect they can have on settled communities. That is why we will be issuing a call for evidence on the effectiveness of enforcement against unauthorised developments and encampments. I will publish that call for evidence shortly.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Conservative, South West Bedfordshire

On a daily basis, Central Bedfordshire Council is dealing with completely unacceptable numbers of unauthorised Traveller encampments. Many of those Travellers own land elsewhere, and many of their children are not in school, so when will the Government’s consultation lead to appropriate powers being made available to all local authorities, including my own?

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

I know that my hon. Friend has expressed views on this several times in the House. My Department is working closely with the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice to prepare the call for evidence. Once it is published, he and all Members with an interest will have an opportunity to set out their views.

Photo of Kate Green Kate Green Labour, Stretford and Urmston

Last month, the all-party group on Gypsies, Travellers and Roma, which I chair, met to discuss unauthorised encampments and possible positive solutions. We heard from a representative of the National Police Chiefs Council that the police do have adequate powers, and that unlawful trespass is not the answer and had not worked in Ireland. Will the Minister meet the all-party group and representatives of the community to talk about some of the positive solutions that could help to address this issue?

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

Of course I will meet the all-party group, but the whole point of a call for evidence is to allow everyone to feed in their views, and it is precisely those views that we want to hear. Following that, we will, of course, set out plans to take this further.