Stourbridge MP welcomes new legislation agains unauthorised travellers

Stourbridge MP Suzanne Webb has welcomed new legislation to stop travellers setting up camp on private land following incidents over several years in Withymoor.

The government has announced that anyone who sets up unauthorised camps and refuses to leave could face three months in prison, a potential fine of up to £2500 and having their vehicles seized. 

The offence of intentional trespass will be included in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Previously, a landowner would have to go to court to remove an illegal encampment as the offence was considered a civil matter. Suzanne said:

"Residents in places like Withymoor Village have coped with the threat of traveller encampments for years now and so this legislation is welcomed because it causes a great deal of distress to rural communities.

“Every year the same thing has happened. Caravans have turned up in Withymoor and then there has been a long battle to get them to leave again which causes significant disruption, distress or harm to local communities. 

“Last summer, Dudley Council erected a site in Coseley to deter travellers from setting up temporary camps, but national action has always been needed to stop this happening.”

Suzanne said only a tiny minority of travellers set up camp illegally with the law-abiding majority going to sites set up by councils. She added that those who camp or hike but stray on private land have nothing to fear from the planned legislation as it will be tightly defined. She added:

“The government fully recognises everyone’s right to a nomadic life, but this must be balanced against the rights of landowners and local communities."

Local ward councillor Paul Bradley also welcomed the proposed new law. He said:

“Villagers have been incredibly upset by the constant battle over the years with this tiny minority of travellers who feel they can set up camp anywhere,” he said.

“There was also frustration about the limits to civil legislation that made it so time consuming to do anything about it. Hopefully, this new law will be effective and put minds at rest.”


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