£200,000 to clean up after trav­ellers

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Alexan­der Ballinger alexan­der.ballinger@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

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.”

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