Last night (9th October) Nuneaton’s MP, Marcus Jones, in his role as a Minister, responded to a House of Commons debate on Gypsies and Travellers.
The wide-ranging debate demonstrated that the actions of a minority of gypsies and travellers – illegally occupying land and leaving it rubbish-strewn when they eventually move on – is a nationwide problem, but one where there is a national and local responsibility to act.
Marcus Jones, in his response to the debate, made it clear that Nuneaton has suffered from such illegal encampments several times in recent months and he is well aware of the distress they cause to law-abiding members of the settled community and the costs that local councils face to clean-up afterwards.
Marcus stressed that the existing law needs to be enforced locally and praised the efforts of Warwickshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner to establish a local protocol which brings together all of the County’s local authorities and the police to take swift and effective action when an illegal encampment is established.
During his speech, Marcus Jones said:“I am, therefore, very pleased that, today, we have signalled our intention to seek a call for evidence to review the way in which existing powers are enforced and to understand what more can be done to tackle many of the issues raised in the debate. However, I caution Members because, whatever powers this House has given, and may give, it is important to say that those powers will inevitably be enforced at local level and that enforcement is the key to success in this regard.”
The call for evidence is an opportunity for all of those involved to bring forward details of their experiences, the processes that have worked successfully and those that have not.
Speaking after the debate, Marcus Jones said:
“Over a number of years we have had parks and other land illegally occupied by groups of travellers who had no care for the rights of landowners or those who live nearby; who left huge amounts of waste of all types behind and, once the legal processes forced them to move on, often moved very short distances and set up another illegal encampment. This situation cannot just continue and the Government is determined to examine how the current powers that councils and police have are being used and look at what more can be done to tackle this important issue.”