£200,000 to clean up after travellers
THE increase in travellers setting up camp on green spaces in Hillingdon this year has cost the council £200,000 in clean-up costs.
Speaking at a Hillingdon Council meeting on Thursday, September 8 Douglas Mills, the cabinet member for community commerce and regeneration, said there had been 17 reports of travellers at different sites in the borough, which is ‘much higher’ than previous years.
Cllr Mills said the reason for the increase in incidents this summer is unclear, but that the council will ‘ make sure they go’.
He said: “This summer we’ve seen a record number of incursions, much higher than we’ve had in previous summers.
“We’ve counted about 17 at the last count.
“We’re not entirely sure as to why the number is much higher than in previous years.”
Cllr Mills said the incursions often cause ‘intimidation, costly environmental damage and anti-social behaviour’ in surrounding areas.
Travellers set up in Uxbridge Common in August where they stayed for five days before being moved on by the council.
There was also a large number of caravans in Philpot’s Farm in Yiewsley.
Cllr Mills said the council’s response to travellers was ‘robust’ but said problems do arise during the eviction process.
He added that travellers often move in on weekends and bank holidays when courts are closed, which delays the council in getting an eviction order.
The authority does put perimeters around any traveller-occupied sites to prevent people coming and going, but Cllr Mills said some groups set up their own borders to control access.
To counteract this, Hillingdon Council is now putting its own security around the borders set up by the travellers.
Cllr Mills added: “What we want to make clear is that unfortunately quite often we do get recovery of the site and it’s an absolute tip. It’s a real mess.
“To date we’ve incurred just under £200,000 this year in terms of clearing up the messes that have been left.”