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Redbridge Council has spent £100,000 this year on cleaning up Travellers camps

PUBLISHED: 11:25 03 October 2017 | UPDATED: 11:25 03 October 2017

Travellers being evicted from fields on Elmcroft Avenue Wanstead. Picture Ken Mears.

Travellers being evicted from fields on Elmcroft Avenue Wanstead. Picture Ken Mears.

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Redbridge Council has spent more than £100,000 on cleaning up rubbish left by Travellers this year, and is seeking a high court injunction to stop illegal encampments.

Travellers were evicted in a joint operation between Redbridge Council and the police. Picture: Ken Mears. Travellers were evicted in a joint operation between Redbridge Council and the police. Picture: Ken Mears.

After the most recent eviction from Roding Valley Park, in Elmcroft Avenue, Wanstead, on Friday, council enforcement officers collected evidence of fly-tipping, other environmental crimes and general infringements.

The law prevents local authorities from evicting people from illegal encampments without following strict protocols, meaning the council’s hands have “been tied” when dealing with Travellers.

Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal, said: “This anti-social behaviour from a small number of very determined Travellers causes severe disruption for residents and costs the council significant amounts of money to take eviction action through the courts to remove unlawful encampments and to clear up the mess that’s left behind.

“This is money that we could be spending on the things that really matter to our residents.

“In this year alone, the cost of clean-up is in excess of £100,000, with some sites costing up to £50,000 to clear because of fly-tipping including asbestos.”

Cllr Athwal said the council is taking precautions to protect green spaces including locking parks overnight and closing vehicle access during high-risk periods, however, on occasions, Travellers have illegally forced entry.

“We work closely with the Metropolitan Police to evict the Travellers whenever they trespass and we have to be tough to ensure our residents’ way of life is preserved,” he added.

“I have therefore decided to seek evidence to take this issue to the high court with the aim of seeking a borough-wide injunction that prevents unlawful encampment in Redbridge.

“We are working to that effect and, subject to the evidence and expert legal advice, expect to take our case to the high court next year.”

The leader also said that he will be lobbying central government to give local authorities more powers to deal with illegal encampments.

A charity previously spoke to the Recorder about the need for “empathy and positive dialogue” when dealing with Travellers camping in the borough.

Redbridge Equalities and Community Council (RECC) said the increased presence in the borough shows the desperate need for more authorised sites for Travellers.

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