Why have Peterborough traveller sites been in action just three times despite more than 50 unauthorised encampments in 12 months?

Possible area for travellers site at the bottom of Clay Lane, Dogsthorpe - already occupied EMN-140917-154516009
Possible area for travellers site at the bottom of Clay Lane, Dogsthorpe - already occupied EMN-140917-154516009
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Emergency Stopping Places for travellers have been used just three times despite more than 50 unauthorised encampments in Peterborough.

It costs Peterborough City Council around £100,000 each year to manage and evict unauthorised encampments with costs including court fees, bailiffs and clearing up.

A review is underway into the Emergency Stopping Places (ESPs) which were agreed last September after a cross-party working group, headed by Councillor John Fox, spent more than two years searching for sites. Cllr Fox is now calling for the re-establishment of the working group.

He added: “It’s a national problem that politicians need to review.”

There were 55 reported unauthorised encampments in the 12 months from July 2014 of which eight required court evictions to move on.

In June, the Bretton Water Park was shut for a week after a number of caravans moved onto land in Pyhill, Bretton. The travellers, though, were not moved to an ESP.

Amey, the firm contracted by the council to manage cleaning services, had to clear up excrement in the grass and empty gas bottles.

Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said: “The government has given adequate powers to the local authority and the police to deal properly with problems of illegal traveller encampments, especially now the Emergency Stopping Places are established – which itself took several years.

“I would say to cllr Fox the last thing we need is another secret talking shop with local residents locked out of the decision making process affecting their neighbourhoods.

“At the moment, the city is seen as a soft touch and if we want to maintain good community relations and trust in the authorities by taxpayers, we need a little more action and less hot air and excuses.”

A council spokesman said: “The vast majority of unauthorised traveller encampments have moved on after being given direction to leave.

“Alongside ESPs the cross-party group also streamlined our procedures to secure quicker evictions.

“Where we have had unauthorised encampments we have reviewed the location following an eviction and installed or upgraded defence measures in an effort to prevent the sites being used again.”