Review into Illegal Traveller Encampments Welcomed by Rochester and Strood MP Following Two Year Lobby

Kelly Tolhurst MP has warmly welcomed the Government’s decision to review of the law and powers to deal with unauthorised caravan sites and developments, having highlighted problems in Medway to ministers over the past two years.

Since 2010, the number of traveller caravans on authorised sites has increased across Medway. Sadly, these unauthorised sites have caused Rochester and Strood residents significant distress – an issue raised in Parliament by the Rochester and Strood MP having witnessed herself the antisocial behaviour at Cookham Wood Young Offenders’ Institution in Borstal and the Civic Centre in Strood in just two of several instances.

Rochester and Strood has particularly seen traveller numbers and infringements increase over recent years, with regular reports of intimidating, threatening behaviour, fly-tipping and noise. It was the view of residents that local authorities and police forces lacked either the capacity or the will to use already available powers to deal with these issues.

Kelly had asked several parliamentary questions to Housing and Local Government ministers and last year called for a debate on how powers and local authorities’ obligations to deal with travellers can be strengthened. The Rochester and Strood MP had also called on Medway Council and Kent Police to ensure the public and private property remain protected.

Following the announcement Kelly Tolhurst MP said,

“After lobbying the government over the last two years with the help of fellow MPs, I am pleased that the government has listened to the concerns of residents and now taken the decision to review the law

“The vast majority of the travelling community are decent and law-abiding people, however I grow particularly concerned about illegal encampments, and some of the anti-social behaviour that can come with them which is why this review is so important.

“It is not right that law abiding residents up and down the country should be fearful for damage to property or themselves created by the anti-social behaviour that we are seeing from many illegal encampments.

“It is our priority to make sure there are legal sites available for travellers in a tolerant society, but ultimately the rule of law must be applied to everyone.”

The consultation can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/powers-for-dealing-with-unauthorised-development-and-encampments