Council officials have started the first stage in the process to evict travellers the 20 caravans that have taken up residence in the town’s Langer Park, but successful legal action could still be some days away.
Last week Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said he was making it easier for councils to deal promptly with illegal traveller sites.
Councils can use temporary notices to remove unauthorised caravans, pre-emptive injunctions to protect vulnerable land in advance, and possession orders to remove trespassers from land.
But it is the welfare audit to check individuals’ health and circumstances on the sites that takes the time.
Suffolk Coastal leader Ray Herring said: “Staff from Suffolk Coastal, in partnership with Suffolk County Council, have now visited the unauthorised encampment on Langer Park, Felixstowe, to carry out the initial welfare audit, as required by law.
“The welfare audit, to establish the wellbeing of the occupants of the encampment, signifies the first step in the process to ensure that the partners can take appropriate action to remove all the travellers, their vehicles and possessions from the site at the earliest opportunity.
“We are fully aware of the inconvenience this encampment may cause regular users of the park and would like to reassure local people that we intend to take all available steps, in line with legislation, to remove the occupants from site as soon as possible.
“Once we have dealt with this encampment, we also intend to review all aspects of this incident, including the options open to us to improve security at this and other parks and car parks in the area.
“However, any such review will have to be carried out in the light of the requirements of other customers to use these areas, as well as the cost implications to the council.”
Felixstowe councillor Doreen Savage said the gates to the park had been left locked at the end of the carnival at the weekend.
She added: “Council officers have spoken to the travellers and asked them to secure the dogs that were roaming the park.”
Police have been urged to move on a group of Travellers who are alleged to have cut their way into a secure car park on a Business Park.
The site, which has been occupied by half a dozen caravans, has been repeatedly used as a illegal traveller camp, despite measures taken to secure it.
The latest move has angered two City councillors, Alexander Stewart and Willie Wilson.
Mr Wilson said: “I have visited the site and it is obvious that the gate and fence have been deliberately damaged. Those occupying the site have clearly cut through the fence to gain entry.
“This is sheer criminal damage and I have asked the police to take action in this matter and eviction these so-called Travellers immediately.”
Legal proceedings have started to evict an unauthorised traveller camp encampment of travellers at Waterhall Playing Fields.
Council Executive Director Geoff Raw said: “The council has started legal proceedings to evict the unauthorised encampment and there is a hearing tomorrow.
The council is working closely with partners across the city including the police to monitor the site, sensibly evict the travellers as soon as possible and plan for the dispersal of the group.”
Friends of Waterhall chair Christine FitzGerald said: “How can it be that a group of people can intimidate our council administrators to the extent they are allowed to do as they wish on public land?
“It might be thought by some the inconvenience caused to a minority of Waterhall users is acceptable, but many small groups of people regularly use the area.
“That is what parks and playing fields are for.
“It is not acceptable to allow such a large group of people to unlawfully occupy public land without supervision other than a cursory visit by police.”
A group of travellers has moved on from a make-shift site at hours before a legal bid to evict them.
Wallsend Travellers Camp Is Cleared Hours Before Eviction Action In Court
In their wake they have left rubbish behind which will need to be cleared away but residents say they are just relieved they’ve gone.
North Tyneside Council was preparing to go to court to seek permission to remove them from the plot at Gainers Terrace, behind the Buddle Industrial Estate, in Wallsend, which they had occupied for just over a week.
But the hearing was put on hold as it was revealed the travellers had disappeared overnight.
Close to the spot where the caravans had been, there are now armchairs and furniture piled up.
The site is near a cycle way and walking route, and people using the area said they were unhappy about litter being left behind.
One resident said: “I live nearby and the place has been a mess since they moved in.
“I’m very glad they’ve gone, they obviously expected the council along later today to evict them anyway.
“They’ve left a mess behind which the taxpayer will end up having to pay to clean up but at least they aren’t here any more. ”
Last week retired truck driver Alan Cochrane, 68, said: “At the end of the day, if any of us had parked a caravan like that, we would feel the full force of the law. The bottom line is that this is illegal and the caravans should go.
“Some people use that site to park their cars, so they can have a stroll or walk their dogs here. The caravans are blocking up the space.”
A North Tyneside Council spokesman said: “The council is aware of the travellers at Gainers Terrace, Wallsend, and has taken a robust stance in ensuring the four caravans move on from the site they have illegally occupied since August 1″.
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