New police powers to stop illegal encampments welcome by councillor

A local Councillor has welcomed the announcement of new powers that will criminalise trespass and strengthen police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments that can cause harm, disruption and distress to local communities.

Cllr Simon Phipps, representing Belle Vale Ward on Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, has hailed the new powers as a “game-changer” following a campaign to protect local green spaces from illegal encampments. 

Travellers set up illegal encampments on open spaces in Whittingham Road, Halesowen, several times over a multi-year period stretching from 2016 to 2019. Each encampment resulted in damage to the open space, owned by a local secondary school, which cost over £35,000 to put right. Speaking after the announcement on Tuesday, Cllr Simon Phipps said:

“I am delighted that this long overdue change in the law will be brought forward. Residents not just in Belle Vale, but across the Dudley Borough have had to endure their parks and open spaces being occupied and damaged by some who feel the law doesn’t apply to them.

"That injustice led me to writing to the Home Secretary about this issue in October 2019. 

“These new powers will be a game-changer for landowners across the country who would previously have to wait weeks for a court order to evict illegal encampments, even if they broke onto the property and were causing damage to it.” 

Dudley Council previously set up its own “transit site” to offer a place to stay for travellers, which in turn unlocked more powers for the Police to move illegal encampments on within hours, without the need for a court order.


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