Spate of traveller camps costs £35k
More than £35,000 has been spent in the past five months by Luton Borough Council on removing illegal traveller encampments, we can reveal.
The latest group were evicted from a park in Wigmore, between Crawley Green Road and Colwell Rise, on Tuesday, after the council began legal action.
One exasperated resident living near the park said people felt “like prisoners in their own homes, no longer able to use the park as caravans have taken it over”.
They added: “It’s about time the council found them a disused site, then it wouldn’t keep costing the council and local residents to have them removed.”
Following Tuesday’s eviction, the council said the area would be “cleaned and made secure as soon as possible”.
Since April, the authority has had to tackle 11 illegal encampments, spending just under £32,000 on removals, repairs and cleaning up, and just over £3,400 on legal fees.
Asked if more action was planned to prevent travellers occupying public spaces in Luton, a council spokesman said: “We have tried different measures including erecting bollards and welding the gates closed at various public parks and open spaces.
“However, it is always a fine line we have to tread between preventing encampments, while at the same time ensuring law-abiding citizens are able to gain access.
“In addition, the larger parks are protected using height restriction barriers.
“As a council we can only act within the law and this process usually takes between five and seven working days provided there are no medical or educational issues.
“If the numbers of reported problems increase to an unacceptable level, the police are then able to use their powers to remove travellers more quickly.
“The police can also act when encampments are set up in sensitive sites such as schools, the crematorium and major roads.
“Therefore, it is important that residents contact the police on 101 when they see illegal encampments.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Luton
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: South west