Council attempts to ban illegal traveller sites

Date published: 13 February 2018

Rochdale Borough Council is attempting to ban travellers from setting up illegal sites locally.

The council is understood to have applied for a boroughwide High Court injunction to ban travellers from setting up illegal camps, almost three years after the possibility was raised following complaints from frustrated residents about fly-tipping and antisocial behaviour.

The council is the first council in Greater Manchester to apply for such a measure. In October, local MP Tony Lloyd raised a number of points in a Parliamentary debate following a meeting with Rochdale Borough Council about issues relating to travellers.

Public notices have been posted throughout the borough, naming 89 travellers banned from occupying the land on green spaces, parks and fields.

Local resident Mr Horridge said: “The ban is a good idea in a way; moving them around isn’t making the problems go away.”

He added: “I have friends who are travellers, and there are both good travellers and the bad ones.”

Travellers have a well-known presence in the borough, often visiting the same locations annually including Cronkeyshaw Common, Kingsway and Tesco and Dunelm car parks. Despite preventative measures taken by the council, such as digging ‘trenches’ on the common, some travellers have not been deterred from setting up camp illegally.

Rochdale Borough Council does not have a duty to move travellers who are camping without authorisation, but can evict them from council land.  Preventing and removing trespassers on private land are the duty of the landowner, not the police.

Despite this, authorised spaces have been provided in the borough: in addition to the permanent site at Roch Vale Caravan Park, the council set up a temporary site for travellers in March 2017 on Belfield Road, near The Croft Shifa Health Centre.

Travellers are protected from discrimination by the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Human Rights Act 1998. As a result, the government has advised ‘when travellers are not causing a problem, the site may be tolerated.’

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