The Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles is helping councils clamp down faster on illegal encampments and unauthorised traveller sites. There will also be a stronger voice to local
residents and councillors to challenge council officers if they claim "nothing can be done" to tackle such blight. Already the Diversity and Equality Guidance which served only to discourage councils from taking enforcement action has been scrapped.
The online guidance sets out the robust powers councils and landowners now have to remove unauthorised
traveller sites, protest camps and squatters from both public and private land, as well as tackling the mess from such sites. Councils merely need the political will to uphold the law while it is particularly important that people are vigilant over the impending Bank Holiday when unauthorised sites are often more prevalent.
New Temporary Stop Notices give councils powers to tackle unauthorised caravans, backed up with potentially unlimited fines.
Mr Pickles said:
"I want all councils to be ready to take action straightaway to stop illegal camps and unauthorised sites starting in the first place. Decisive action early on saves money and unnecessary upset for local residents.
"We’ve strengthened councils’ powers so they have the confidence to take decisive action. Too often, council officers wash their hands, and say nothing can be done. This is not the case.
"The public want to see fair play, with planning rules enforced consistently, rather than special treatment being given to certain groups."
If local authorities claim to be unable to deal with the problem they should be challenged. there is no longer any excuse for such inertia.