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Action to Protect Council Land from Unauthorised Encampments Moves a Step Closer as Cabinet Approves Lib Dem Proposal

January 31, 2008 2:30 PM

Efforts to reduce the problems caused by unauthorised gypsy and traveller encampments in Bedford Borough have been boosted after the Liberal Democrat proposal to fund schemes to protect vulnerable open spaces to the was included in the Cabinet's budget. The Lib Dems made this proposal to the council's Corporate and Resource Committee in November last year.

Following the appearance of large numbers of unauthorised encampments across Bedford over the past year, the Lib Dems have campaigned for effective action to protect council land in the most vulnerable areas.

Cllr Paul Whitehead, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Newnham Ward, said:

"It is good news that the Mayor and his Cabinet have accepted the Liberal Democrat proposal to protect open spaces from unauthorised encampments. The sooner this work can start the better. Recent experiences have shown that we have to be better prepared to deal with this. Meanwhile, every encampment costs the council a large amount in removal and clean up costs. It makes much more sense to have preventative measures in the first place.'

"Of course, this is only one part of the action needed to stop the merry-go-round movement of traveller sites, which serves no-one. It is an important step, however, particularly as the new permanent traveller sites that are needed are unlikely to appear for at least two years thanks to the government's failure to recognise the urgency of this issue for people in places such as Bedford."

The East of England Regional Assembly agreed on Friday on regional plans to be considered by the Government which recommend that Bedford Borough should provide 15 new caravan pitches. The Government will not issue guidance to councils on the number of new pitches they are to provide until as late as autumn 2009, however.