Leeds City Council deals with 67 illegal traveller camps in six months

PIC: Neil Cross
PIC: Neil Cross
Have your say

Leeds City Council has dealt with 67 unauthorised gypsy and traveller encampments in a six month period, and has invoked its legal powers on 21 occasions to move convoys on, new figures published by the authority reveal.

From June 2017 to November 2017, the council was notified of 55 encampments on land it owns, and another 12 on private land.

One particular group from the Blackpool area were moved on on 19 occasions, with seven of those being in the Seacroft area.

Powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (trespassing) have been used 11 times, with existing orders on land used on 10 occasions.

The numbers, presented to a cross-party scrutiny panel at Leeds Civic Hall earlier today (Monday), also reveal there were two brand new encampments in December.

Last year, Leeds planning chiefs approved a long-term temporary travellers site in Kidacre Street, Hunslet. The permission for eight pitches is valid for 10 years.

A report to today’s meeting said that some of the families referred to would be moving to the Kidacre Street site once it is completed.

The report also noted that the newest group have encamped seven times, and one of these sites was under an “agreed negotiated period” of 27 days at Bath Road, Holbeck.

It follows the council being forced to deny last month that there was a “secret list” of locations which could be used as 28-day stopping sites for gypsies and travellers.

As previously revealed by the YEP, the “negotiated stopping sites” scheme - thought to be the first of its kind in the country - is creating nine temporary caravan sites on a rolling basis on pockets of land awaiting redevelopment.

Families are allowed to stay for up to 28 days with no fear of being evicted, but have to sign a “good behaviour contract” with the council.

The idea is part of Leeds’s wider strategy to provide traveller pitches as part of its Site Allocations Plan. The council has to provide 62 individual permanent pitches.

The YEP has previously reported that Leeds City Council spent £3m in a decade on clean-up and eviction costs. Updated figures reveal that between 2012 and 2017, the authority has spent £800,000 on the issue.