Travellers have once again rolled up on land protected by a limited injunction in Leeds sparking calls for police powers to be more readily used.
Around 30 caravans, cars and vans were parked on the grass land near Radio Aire, off Kirkstall Road, in Leeds, last weekend.
The site is covered by a permanent injunction, which bans two named Leeds families from camping on the site, although for the third time this year a group from outside the city has moved in.
With Leeds City Council again facing a costly journey through the courts to seek an eviction order, traveller welfare group Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange (GATE) feel the police power to move groups from sensitive land should be more readily enforced.
Helen Jones, chief executive at Leeds GATE, said: “I just don’t understand why holistically the local authorities, including the police, don’t use a power which we would support them in. It needs more communication.
“The council should go stronger on the policy they have dabbled around with in terms of negotiated stopping.”
She said at Kirkstall Road the authorities in Leeds should use Section 62 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, which states groups of trespassing vehicles parked on land deemed “sensitive” can be moved on to other suitable sites by police.
GATE feel that it could then lead to more authorised temporary sites, such as trialled in Holbeck last year, where travellers agree to look after barren land, behave acceptably and ensure restricted numbers for a short period of time before voluntarily moving on at an agreed date.
Earlier this year Coun Peter Gruen, the council’s lead member for neighbourhoods and planning, said that the £10,000 spent on two permanent injunctions was “money well spent because it sends a message that we are not going to mess about”.
He also outlined plans for a further injunction that could see the council try to ban any unauthorised camps from nuisance spots in the city, as it seeks a £1m expansion of its Cottingley Springs permanent traveller site.
Clearing unauthorised traveller camps cost the council more than £200,000 last year.
A council spokeswoman said it is looking to secure an eviction through the county court for the Kirkstall Road travellers but no court date has yet been set.