In Westminster today, Michael Fabricant today launched new proposals from the Conservative Party to tackletroublesome travellers in the Lichfield constituency in the run up to the Summer Solstice. A policy document entitled ‘Common Sense on Travellers – Listening to Britain’ outlines a series of policy proposals for consultation with local councillors and police.
He said, "Some, but certainly not all, travellers create a chronic problem for the permanent residents of Lichfield by trespassing and making everyone’s lives a misery. As a result, the reputation of all travellers suffers.
"Over the last few years there have been examples in Lichfield, Fradley and elsewhere. The police do not have sufficient powers to move them on and many travellers are legal ‘experts’. Travellers’ camps often result in damage to property, an increase in petty crime and create large amounts ofrubbish and waste. Many of their children are not attending schools; no parent should have the right to deprive their children of access to a good education.
"Conservatives will change legislation and planning guidance to ensure that local communities are not blighted every summer by irresponsible camps of unauthorised travellers. It is still a tortuous process to remove trespassers and they frequently leave behind a wake of destruction.
"I reject the views of some politically correct individuals that a blind eye should be turned to minor crimes by many travellers just because of their alternative lifestyle. They may not have a permanent residence, but all travellers still have legal and moral obligations as members of the community."
The proposals outlined in the document ‘Common Sense on Travellers – Listening to Britain’ include:
* Tackling open breaches of the law by travellers – including trespass, untaxed vehicles and unleashed dogs.
* Withdrawal of income support from travellers subject to eviction orders who refuse to move.
* Three month ‘radius’ bans, preventing travellers returning to a site where there has been a eviction, as well as any site within a set number of miles of the eviction.
* Greater scrutiny of the educational supervision that travellers’ children receive.
* A fast-track, one-stop legal procedure to streamline evictions.
* Reforms to make it easier for landowners to gain compensation for damage to property from camps of travellers.
* Removing the presumption in planning policy that vacant land near residential accommodation is suitable for temporary travellers’ camps.
"This seems ‘common sense’ to me", says Michael Fabricant "and I believe that many residents adjoining fields used by travellers in the past will welcome tougher legislation".