MP calls for “robust action” over illegally camped travellers

Travellers recently camped on Strawberry Fields.
Travellers recently camped on Strawberry Fields.

Sir Greg Knight has urged Humberside Police and East Riding of Yorkshire Council to “act robustly” in response to illegal campsites on public and private land in Bridlington.

This summer travellers have set up temporary sites on land in Bridlington, including a large encampment on Strawberry Fields, obstructing the twice-weekly car boot sale run from the site.

Sir Greg Knight

Sir Greg Knight

Sir Greg, Member of Parliament for East Yorkshire, said: “I think where they arrive and encamp themselves on land which is not an official travellers site they should be moved on. They have caused disruption in my view in Bridlington.

“Quite frankly people who pay their tax and are contributing to the locally economy in the East Riding shouldn’t have to put up with it. In an area like Bridlington we want to encourage tourists to come in and spend their money here and in some cases they can be put off if travellers are being rowdy and disruptive.”

East Riding Council moved on two separate groups of travellers who camped on land near Morrisons on Bessingby Road in Bridlington and last week cleared up the rubbish they left behind. However members of the public have called for stronger action to permanently prevent travellers camping on the land, and for quicker action by the authorities.

Sir Greg explained that under Sections 77-78 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 the council can move travellers on from public or private land, such as Strawberry Fields. In addition sections 61-62 of the same act allows the police to evict travellers illegally camped on land.

He said: “I think a robust application of the law is needed because I certainly understand they caused a bit of disturbance when they were near Morrisons. I hope the police and the local authority will continue to act robustly.

“The Government, a few years ago, did strengthen the law to allow gypsies and travellers to be moved on even when other sites are not available. My current view is that the law doesn’t need to be strengthened further and the council and the police have the adequate powers. As far as I am aware the ownership of the land is irrelevant. To be fair to local authorities, some times they try to get them to move on voluntarily first and that may be a slow process.”

A spokesperson for East Riding of Yorkshire Council said: “As a council if a traveller encampment illegally sets up on public land the council uses the powers available. If it is on private land it is the responsibility of the land owner.”

Tom Parry, director of HP Markets which own Strawberry Fields, said: “We struggled. It is a very frustrating circumstance to find yourself in. We have got to try and get on with them and have an amiable relationship otherwise they can be really nasty.

“It is probably one of the most frustrating weeks of operating a market ever, other problems are solvable - this was unsolvable. It was a lawless bunch going back to the days of Robin Hood, like I have got a bigger sword than you and you have to move us.

“What needs changing is the law in my eyes. The council needs to get together with the Government and create more areas for them.”