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Call for Bolton Council to Adopt New Travellers Eviction Procedures

Friday, August 10th, 2018 10:32am

By Nick Statham - Local Democracy Reporter

Councillors have called for extra powers to move travellers on if they set up camp illegally.

It comes after groups were moved on after pitching up on grass verges along the approach to Farnworth Cemetery and on the playing field behind St Stephen’s CE Primary School, in Kearsley.

At present Bolton Council’s gypsy liaison officer must first issue a direction instructing a group to move on within 24 hours, before applying to magistrates for a court order.

Farnworth ward councillor Paul Sanders says he would like to see the authority look at more effective ways of dealing with illegal encampments.

Cllr Sanders, of Farnworth and Kearsley First, said: “The law needs to change and what we might try to do is push the Bolton Council to change the way it operates its procedures.“I know there are a couple of models some local authorities have where there is provision for a go-to piece of land — possibly with a charge — where a skip is provided and a contract signed for a set period of time.

“The land is away from residential area, schools and communities, that’s something we may push for in the near future.”

Travellers also set up camp at a playing field off Fern Street in Farnworth in May, despite boulders placed there after groups twice moved on to the land last summer.

Cllr Sanders added: “We are mindful not to get too involved as we know the local authority has its own way of dealing with it, but if a system could be put in place whereby the authority is making provision for travellers, it could cut clean-up costs in the long run.”

The comments echo remarks made by Farnworth Labour councillor Jean Gillies, who last year called for a “massive review” after becoming frustrated with the protracted eviction process.

And this week she told The Bolton News she was keen for Bolton to adopt a similar approach to Blackpool Council, which has High Court orders on certain areas, allowing it to move travellers on immediately.

She said: “I think we should be considering a new way of tackling this and if there is an injunction through the High Court, then I personally think we need to be looking at that, because residents’ quality of life is being injured by some very unnecessary situations and the uneasiness it causes

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