Councillor calls for tougher laws on traveller camps

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Tougher powers should be brought in to evict travellers from public land more quickly, a councillor has claimed.

Coun Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield) wants to rally his constituents and petition government to pass stricter legislation.

Travellers moved into Knowl Park on August 19 and were due to be served an eviction notice yesterday.

Photographs taken by the councillor reveal a build-up of rubbish and excrement at the site – mess which a member of the travellers he spoke to denied responsibility for.

Mr Bolt has called for “calm and reasoned debate” about the issue, but insists the public should not bare the brunt of the “significant” clean-up and legal costs to move the families on.

“I’m not against the travelling community but what I am against is people who are putting an unfair burden on people in society,” he said.

“If people came on to piece of land without leaving a mess and the settled community picking up the tab, there may not be as much public angst.”

Coun Bolt added that the state of Knowl Park is a health hazard, which will need specialist cleaning.

He thinks a recent change in Parliament which makes squatting on private property a criminal offence should be extended to public areas. Private property landlords can now move squatters on within 24 hours.

“I don’t see any difference to squatting on private property and squatting on public land. I will be talking to my constituents to see if they want to petition government to review the law.”

Though there is an argument that Kirklees Council should provide dedicated traveller sites, Coun Bolt thinks that an unwillingness by some families to mix could hinder that process.

Just weeks ago, community members cut Knowl Park’s grass in the wake of the council reducing maintenance.