Harrold Ward Cllr Alison Foster has written to the Bedfordshire on Sunday to back Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner in calling for a joint approach towards preventing unauthorised Gypsy & Traveller encampments.
The letter, published in yesterday’s edition of the newspaper, reads as follows:
Kathryn Holloway, our Police and Crime Commissioner, is correct in her assertion that stopping illegal Gypsy & Traveller sites is not the sole responsibility of the police.
Illegal encampments in the Borough are largely a Council-made problem that could be addressed if the Mayor and his Executive (comprised exclusively of Lib Dem and Labour Councillors) were prepared to agree to allocating a piece of Council owned land, of which they have plenty, for use as a transit site for Gypsies & Travellers. This would go a long way towards preventing the type of unauthorised encampments that we saw recently in Waveney Green and Wentworth Drive as there would be an official site, controlled by the Council, for these visitors to go rather than camping on land adjacent to residents’ homes.
Conservative and Independent Councillors have for several years been calling on the Mayor and his Executive to take this approach. It was only through our campaign and with the help of pressure from the local press that we were able to persuade the Mayor reluctantly to agree to the use of Meadow Lane for both transit and permanent Gypsy & Traveller accommodation. It is important for residents to realise that the Mayor has kept all decisions like this to himself. His Executive members have no choice but to agree with him if they do not want to be sacked.
The recent spate of illegal encampments shows that it is time to renew our campaign. I would encourage all residents who have recently suffered the inconvenience of illegal encampments to write to the Mayor and his fellow Executive members telling them to get a grip on this issue, to take responsibility for their failure to act and stop blaming the police.