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Council claims illegal travellers ban has saved it £1m in the last year

PUBLISHED: 09:00 31 October 2018

A traveller encampment at Wellington Drive in Dagenham in 2014. Pic: ELLIE HOSKINS

A traveller encampment at Wellington Drive in Dagenham in 2014. Pic: ELLIE HOSKINS

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The council says it has saved almost £1million in clear up costs after becoming the first local authority to ban illegal traveller campsites.

Barking & Dagenham council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell. Pic: KEN MEARSBarking & Dagenham council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell. Pic: KEN MEARS

The High Court granted Barking and Dagenham Council the measure stopping camps being set up without permission at 133 locations across the borough on October 30 last year.

Town hall leader, Cllr Darren Rodwell, said: “Applying for this injunction wasn’t a decision we took lightly, but the reality is that in 12 months we have saved almost £1m of residents’ money.

“We owe it to them and to businesses to use their money wisely and protect our open spaces from the minority who think Barking and Dagenham is a dumping ground.”

The council’s order bans “persons unknown” and 23 named people identified as setting up unauthorised encampments on top of commercial level flytipping.

A traveller encampment at Wellington Drive in Dagenham in 2014. Pic: ELLIE HOSKINSA traveller encampment at Wellington Drive in Dagenham in 2014. Pic: ELLIE HOSKINS

Anyone breaching it faces having assets seized or being arrested, fined and sent to prison.

But Debby Kennett from London Gypsies and Travellers (LGT) described injunction orders against “persons unknown” as a “disproportionate and discriminatory” response.

“It fails to address the two very different issues of flytipping and the accommodation needs of gypsies and travellers in a separate way.

“It blurs the issues and perpetuates negative stereotypes. It feeds prejudice against the gypsy and traveller community,” she said.

A council spokesman said: “The council has a longstanding, close relationship with the gypsy and traveller community and values the cultural diversity they bring.”

When it was introduced the local authority welcomed the groundbreaking injunction with no time limit

To date, 22 councils in England have followed suit.

The council has used the measure 18 times reducing clear up costs to nothing.

This compares to £945,073 cleaning up 84 unauthorised sites between 2014 and 2016 with £819,731 in 2016 alone.

LGT wants local authorities to support negotiated stopping with councils reaching temporary agreements with gypsies and travellers on waste disposal, portaloos and water supply. Deals can apply to encamped land or alternative sites offered by councils.

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