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Highways Agency (Illegal Encampments)

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what guidance is given to Highways Agency staff on illegal camping on agency property; [111006](2) when the Highways Agency was informed of the illegal occupation of their land at Foston, Derbyshire; and when the agency sought a notice to quit the site. [111007]

I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Mr. Tim Matthews, to write to my hon. Friend.

Letter from Tim Matthews to Mr. Mark Todd, dated 6 May 2003:

The Transport Minister, David Jamieson, has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions asking what guidance is given to Highways Agency staff on illegal camping on Agency property, when the Agency was made aware of the illegal occupation of its land at Foston, Derbyshire, and when it sought a notice to quit the site.

Highways Agency staff are guided by the advice contained in Department of the Environment Circular 18/94 "Gypsy Sites Policy and Unauthorised Camping". That states that Gypsies should not be moved unnecessarily from unauthorised encampments when they are causing no nuisance.

The Agency was first notified on 24 March that Gypsies had occupied the land adjacent to the A50/A511 in Foston. An assessment of the situation was carried out on 25 March, which concluded the Gypsies were creating a nuisance. Notices requiring them to vacate the site within 48 hours were served on 9 April. Treasury Solicitor was instructed to commence legal proceedings on 15 April and we anticipate the required papers will be lodged with the Court by 9 May.