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Barking and Dagenham Council powerless to move illegal campers

PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 June 2015

Illegal campers in Barking

Illegal campers in Barking

Archant

Plumes of smoke from barbecues and fires started by travellers camping illegally in Barking town centre have raised safety concerns among residents.

A number of caravans arrived at a patch of land between Glenny Road and Gurdwara Way about three weeks ago, with others later joining.

A 42-year-old mum who lives in Glenny Road became scared for the health of her three-year-old daughter, after the group began lighting sizeable fires.

“As you can imagine, 12 caravans worth of people having a huge barbecue together created a huge amount of smoke,” she said.

“It all came into our homes and absolutely stunk.

“I was worried for my little girl, but there’s a lot of elderly people living nearby too.

“They have been here for over three weeks now – the council really need to get their act together.”

A spokeswoman for the council said the borough authorities have “very limited powers”, because the group are on private land, meaning no direct action can be taken.

She said:“We have made several attempts to contact the owners of the land, but this has so far proved unsuccessful and we have now issued a section 16 notice which requires anyone with an interest in the land to come forward.

“Only the land owner has the legal recourse to apply to the courts to have the travellers removed.

“Where we have the powers available to us we take action as swiftly as possible which could be seen when this current group of travellers were removed from Abbey Green on the same day that they arrived.

“We appreciate that this may cause residents concern and we will continue to do all we can in this situation including searching for the owners and engaging with the travellers about their intentions to stay.”


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