Response to a question raised concerning the Gypsy/Traveller encampment ar Birdham Farm
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Response to a question raised concerning the Gypsy/Traveller encampment ar Birdham Farm

QUESTION

I am a Birdham resident, living in XXXXXXXX Like many residents I am concerned about where we are with the illegal traveller camp which occupies a field on the edge of our village.

We do not seem to be being kept up to date on any current situation. As far as most residents are concerned we all held the belief and hope that the site would be closed down in August. There have been long, drawn out and expensive legal actions taking place over the last few years. It was our understanding that a legal decision had been made and in early August this year was the deadline for the camp to be closed down.

Imagine our frustration and disappointment that the travellers have just ignored this ruling and as far as we can see nothing is being done.

Ordinary, law abiding people are being ignored. We abide by the rules, we pay our taxes and we apply for permission when needed. You must be able to understand our frustration and anger when people in a position of responsibility are not defunding our rights nor upholding the law.

Now I hope that there are positive things happening in the background but my message to all of you is, please support the local people and please keep us updated.

What is the current situation?

Why have the travellers not been made to move on?

Why is the council supporting the site by collecting their rubbish?

Are they paying any money towards council amenities?

Why have they been allowed to access the amenities network? (Water, electricity etc,)

Why are you not keeping local residents informed?

RESPONSE

I refer to your email of earlier today and write in response to your questions.

Taking each matter in turn, in cases of wider public interest it is difficult to identify a collective means of keeping all interested parties updated about the progression of the enforcement process. As a general rule, persons who have specifically written to the authority to express their concern are recorded in our system and will receive updates at key stages. In this case, it is probably timely that an update is issued in light of the continued occupation of the land. I have therefore included Birdham Parish Council in this response. Anyone else with a stated interest will also be provided with an update in due course.

It is correct that following the appeal decision, issued in August 2017, that the use of the land as a caravan site should have been discontinued on or before 2 August 2018 with the operational development, including the track, required to be removed in November this year. Instead, the occupiers have decided to remain on the land. Leading up to the compliance date of 2 August 2018, the occupiers of the land were issued with warning letters to remind them of the need to comply. Officers have also sought to obtain information about the occupiers and any special circumstances that they wish this authority to take into account as part of its decision making. These actions/steps are necessary to demonstrate that the authority is adhering to its legal duty to consider Human Rights and the best interests of any child living on the land.

The current situation

The Authority is seeking legal advice regarding the use of an Injunction(s) to secure compliance with the requirements of the Enforcement Notices.

Why have the travellers not been made to move on?

As stated above, the authority is required to demonstrate that it has discharged its legal duties. In this case, having regard to the nature and scale of the development, it is considered that the appropriate course of action is to secure an Injunction to require the occupiers to vacate the land.

Why is the Council collecting rubbish from the site?

It is best practice to collect refuse from an encampment rather than enforce, and cover the cost of, any potential unauthorised waste disposal.

Are they paying for any amenities?

Yes

Access to services

Water and electric providers are obliged to provide a connection to 'domestic' customers. Such companies operate separately from local authorities and so the Council does not hold information about this.

In addition to the above, I can advise that development that has taken place around the site is also the subject of on-gong enforcement action which is separate from that described above.

I trust that you find these comments of assistance but if you have any further questions please do contact me again.

Yours Sincerely

Enforcement Manager