Invest in security, not clearing up costs of travellers

Travellers in Dewsbury.

Travellers in Dewsbury.

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The cost to councils of illegal traveller camps will be discussed at Kirklees Council on Wednesday.

The LibDems have tabled a motion asking Kirklees to invest money tightening up security on sites rather spending it on legal action and clearing up after the travellers have left.

The call comes following a Reporter Series investigation which revealed that travellers cost Kirklees £150,000 in 2012/13.

Cleckheaton LibDem councillor John Lawson said during the summer several illegal sites had sprung up requiring the council to spend time and money making legal applications to evict and to tidy up the sites.

In the Spen Valley camps have appeared at Moorend Rec, Millbridge Rec, Crown Street car park, Miry Lane and Dale Lane, prompting the area committee to allocate £15,000 to improving security there.

In Dewsbury this week travellers have set up camp at Sands Lane, and they have also recently been at the Shaw Cross Sharks ground in Leeds Road as well as the railway station and Cliffe Street car parks.

Coun Lawson said: “The camps have caused upset and distress for many people as well as costing the council a great deal of money it cannot afford. As a Liberal I am totally in favour of people living their lives as they choose as long as they obey the law and their actions don’t impact negatively on anyone else. But this is not the case in terms of the travellers who have arrived in Kirklees this last few months. Trespass, criminal damage and fly tipping are not acceptable from anyone so it is reasonable for the council to do all it can to prevent it happening again.”

Readers have been sending us their comments on Facebook about what should be done.

Adrian Jackson said: “The problem needs addressing. There needs to be proper sites in the area. Hate them or love them, travellers have rights too.”

Katrina Wallbridge-Nichols agreed: “An allocated site for them would be much better than just making them unwelcome in the area.”

Claire McKelvey added: “I believe if they have a site dedicated to them, that only they can use and be responsible for they will be more inclined to take care of it.”

But others disagreed. Phil Heppenstall said: “Do they pay taxes? If not we should give them nothing, if they do then find them a site somewhere away from other residents.” Peter Hardy added: “Why should we give them a permanent site? Isn’t the key word in the description? They like to be called travellers, so they should travel through Kirklees and not be given a permanent site.”

For more comments and to join in the debate find us on Facebook.