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Traveller encampments in Brighton and Hove

Volume 594: debated on Thursday 26 March 2015

The Petition of residents of Moulsecoomb, Woodingdean, Rottingdean & the wider Brighton area,

Declares that Brighton and Hove City Council has powers to deal with unauthorised traveller encampments; further that the Petitioners believe that the views, concerns and needs of the existing, settled community on this issue too often seem to be ignored; and further notes that sensitive sites in the city seem to be repeatedly targeted every year, costing large amounts of taxpayers’ money to clear up.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage Brighton and Hove City Council to use the powers available to them to deal promptly with unauthorised traveller encampments in the city.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Simon Kirby, Official Report, 26 January 2015; Vol. 591, c. 698.]

[P001429]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

The Government are very concerned about unauthorised Traveller encampments and the effect they can have on local communities.

In August 2013, the Government sent all councils in England a summary of the strong and extensive powers available to them to deal with unauthorised encampments and development—including their enhanced Temporary Stop Notice powers. We reminded councils of the need to be ready to take swift and decisive action to stop unauthorised encampments starting in the first place.

Public bodies should not gold-plate human rights and equalities legislation. Councils and the police have been given strong powers to deal with unauthorised encampments and when deciding whether to take action, they may want to consider for example, (a) the harm that such developments can cause to local amenities and the local environment, (b) the potential interference with the peaceful enjoyment of neighbouring property, (c) the need to maintain public order and safety and protect health—for example, by deterring fly-tipping and criminal damage, (d) any harm to good community relations, (e) that the state may enforce laws to control the use of an individual’s property where that is in accordance with the general public interest.

If Brighton and Hove City Council has consciously chosen not to utilise its powers to the detriment of local residents, the council leadership should be held to account for their inaction.