Tendring District Council (TDC) officers, alongside the Essex Countywide Traveller Unit (ECTU) and security contractors, have worked hard over the weekend to secure public land and to protect and reassure residents after several groups of travellers set up unauthorised encampments in the district.
An initial group of 13 vehicles entered the overflow car park on Bath House Meadow, Walton-on-the-Naze, despite the gate and barrier being recently reinforced following previous encampments. At this site the council was prepared and invoked powers under parking regulations to move the group on.
At the same time another encampment of more than 20 vehicles plus caravans had set up on private land at Clacton Airfield where police served a notice to move, requiring them to leave within 24 hours.
The displaced groups moved to Holland Haven, and also land off of London Road, Clacton. Officers from TDC, ECTU and police managed to persuade both groups to leave these council-owned sites yesterday (Monday, July 2).
The Holland Haven group appears to have left Tendring, but the London Road group has relocated again to Essex County Council-owned open space off Alton Park Road, Clacton. This group will be served with a direction to leave by ECTU tomorrow.
The cost of monitoring travellers, organising evictions and the hire of security to work alongside council officers to prevent further incursions, as well as clearing up afterwards, is considerable.
ECTU provides an extremely cost-effective service on behalf of its members, but there are additional local expenses, despite some officers giving their spare time freely to assist.
Fred Nicholls, TDC Cabinet Member for Corporate Enforcement, said it is vital to support local residents and businesses concerned about unauthorised encampments, particularly during the busy tourist season.
“Any additional expense, although regrettable, is money well spent if it reassures the public and local businesses and helps to move these groups on quickly,” Cllr Nicholls added.
“In recognition of the distress an increasing number of unauthorised encampments can cause, the Government recently consulted on the effectiveness of legal powers in dealing with them along with other related issues. TDC will continue to work where possible with all partners and government to find a long-term solution to the issues arising from unauthorised encampments on public land.
“In the meantime I urge the public to be vigilant, to report any unauthorised encampments, and to be cautious around agreeing to have work undertaken by people calling at their homes unannounced.”