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Moving on travellers costs one Devon council more than £30,000

By Neil_Shaw | Posted: July 06, 2017

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The cost of moving travellers off of land in just one part of Devon rocketed to £33,640 for the 2015/16 financial year. Plymouth City Council spent the money enacting legal powers to turf out travellers from unauthorised camps across the city.

The cash covered the time of council staff as well as bailiff and legal agent fees.

That's an increase of £11,511 from 2015/2016 and a rise of £21,154 since 2014/2015 - when the cost of removing travellers off Plymouth land was £12,486, reports plymouthherald.

The Plymouth figure comes after Devon County Council said more than £20,000 has been spent moving on travellers by the authority in the past three years.

The council was asked about the number of times they have moved travellers on, how long it takes, as well as the costs of moving them on.

The response reveals that more the £20,000 has been spent in the last three years on the issue and the average number of days taken to move travellers on over the three years was 78.9 days.


Evicting travellers: What are the procedures and how long does it take?

Once a group of travellers leave a site, it takes the council half an hour to assess what works need to be carried out to return the land back to the way it was.

This could involve having to carry out bin and toilet collections and a full site clearance which could result in 'corporate property costs'.



Plymouth City Council says there are 78 sites across Plymouth used as 'unauthorised encampments' - meaning the total amount of time taken to assess works is 2,340 minutes, equating to 39 hours of staff time.

The council was unable to disclose whether there had been any reports of anti-social behaviour or whether noise complaints had been lodged to the authority about the travelling community in the years 2015/2016, 2016/2017 and since April this year.


The areas where travellers have recently been setting up camp

St Mary's playing field, Plympton and Whitleigh



A group of travellers made themselves at home on St Mary's playing field in Plympton on Monday.

Numerous mobile homes rocked up at the site - and travellers were quick to make themselves comfortable by sticking up a washing line to air their clean clothes.

Witnesses said there were up to 10 caravans on the fields. Young children were also spotted riding around on large quad bikes.

The week before, travellers set-up camp on park land opposite the Milford Lane and Budshead Road junction in Whitleigh.



But Plymouth City Council said it had made aware of the situation in Plympton - and told The Herald it was ready to enact legal powers to boot the travellers out.


Central Park, Prince Rock and Langage

A group of travellers who had already been moved on from several sites from Plymouth decided to target a city beauty spot.

Photographs showing caravans on a patch of grass near the pitch and putt site appeared on June 23.



Plymouth City Council was alerted to the encampment, which appeared to consist of just two caravans and two vehicles.

But park users were not happy to discover the land was being used by the small group.



It comes after travellers finally left an illegal site at Langage after several weeks beside the road, while another group was ordered off Prince Rock playing fields.

Video footage shot by John Haj (below) shows about four vehicles towing caravans off the Central Park site and into Trelawney Road three days after they arrived on June 26.

Watch below: Footage of travellers leaving Central Park


Crownhill

Images reveal that up to five caravans pitched up on a field in Crownhill on Monday, June 26.

Eyewitnesses claimed that in order to access the field, the travellers had moved a number of heavy boulders.

One resident, who asked not to be named, told The Herald: "Plymouth City Council has been informed and I am refusing to pay my council tax until they are removed.

"Why should I and my neighbours have to look at this until the council gets an eviction notice to move them on.

"The council should be able to go in there and move them straight away.

"No mamby pamby issuing toilets.

"They caused destruction to the field last year digging pits in the middle of the football pitch and lighting fires."

The car park of the former B&Q store in Coypool Road

Police attended the car park of the former B&Q store in Coypool Road, off Plymbridge Road in Plympton, on June 9 after concerns from contractors.

Several caravans arrived overnight and set up camp, leaving contractors to work around them.



A police spokesman said officers from the neighbourhood team attended to help mediate between the travellers and the contractors.

However, the spokesman said that as it was private land, legally the issue was a civil matter and as such it was the legal responsibility of the land owner to deal with.

The bare-knuckle brawl EVERYONE wanted to avoid

The Herald revealed how a swathe of travellers which suddenly appeared at different locations around Plymouth last month were in town for a pre-arranged 'bare-knuckle' fight.

Different groups of traveller convoys have set up camp in Prince Rock, Derriford and Lipson.

The arrivals at the Prince Rock playing field on Embankment Road, the PDSA pet hospital on William Prance Road at Derriford and Lipson Co-operative Academy all happened the week starting Monday, June 5.

The travellers at the school were moved on by teachers and it is believed they set up camp at the Plymouth Ski and Snowboard Centre in Alpine Park.



A spokesman for the ski centre told The Herald the slopes were in full use and the centre was "open for business".

They added that while all adult classes were going ahead as normal, some of the children's classes were being reconsidered.

Travellers last set up camp at the ski centre in early June 2015. On that occasion the centre was given advice by police which state that if gypsies or travellers enter private land, it is usually the landowner's responsibility to take the necessary action to evict them.

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