Council pays thousands to evict travellers
PUBLISHED: 08:00 22 June 2018
The amount of public cash spent tackling unauthorised traveller encampments in North Somerset has fallen by almost half, new figures have revealed.
Despite numerous illegal traveller camps setting up in the district, North Somerset Council’s eviction costs have reduced by 42 per cent from 2016/17 to 2017/18.
In 2017/18, North Somerset was forced to pay £8,632 to deal with unauthorised encampments, compared to an eye-watering £14,936 in 2016/17. Much of the costs were spent enlisting bailiffs, who executed court orders obtained by the council.
But these totals do not reflect the true cost paid by the council, with clean-up work included in the North Somerset waste removal and fly-tipping contract with Glendale.
Illegal traveller camps were set up in Clevedon and Portishead last summer, causing much disruption and mess.
Portishead Football Club suffered significant damage after travellers broke the lock on a gate to set up camp on its main pitch, leaving behind large holes, excrement and its clubhouse vandalised.
A group also set up camp in Clevedon’s Strode Road playing field before being evicted by council-instructed bailiffs.
But despite the high-profile settlements causing much frustration for the public and the council – with several days required in most cases to force the groups to move – the authority’s bills for tackling travellers breaking the law have been slashed.
A council spokesman said: “The significant proportion of costs are associated with engaging private bailiffs to carry out the eviction, which is very rare – once or twice a year.
“The costs fluctuate depending on the size of encampment, number of bailiffs to safely evict and whether tow trucks or other vehicles are required.
“The costs associated with waste removal and cleansing are incorporated into the waste contract as part of fly-tipping removal and are not separately costed.
“Direct team resources for dealing with each encampment vary considerably but typically a minimum of two hours of officer time.
“Where eviction is required this can be more 20 hours per encampment, with an estimated cost to the council of between £150-1,500.”
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