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Council to review illegal encampments policy

Illegal encampment on the Ilkley Lido site in June and July this year

Bradford Council has agreed it should review its policy for unauthorised encampments, following a motion put forward by Councillor Andrew Loy (Conservative, Ilkley) which highlighted the effect on sites such as Ilkley Lido.


The motion noted that some sites in the district, including Ilkley, Marley and Odsal, have frequently been occupied by travellers in illegal encampments. It further noted that “the courts have often been involved to ensure the departure of the culprits and further expense has been required to clean up, make safe and try to secure the sites afterwards”.


Councillor Loy referred to an incursion onto the Lido site in June and July this year, when staff were subjected to verbal abuse and intimidation and the Lido was forced to close for a week, preventing children and families from using its facilities.


While he welcomed the height barriers and boulders which the council has placed around Middleton’s green spaces, he said that travellers had used a JCB or similar machine to move the boulders and gain access to West Holmes Field shortly after the incident at the Lido.


The motion called for the council to investigate using so-called “newcomer injunctions” to bar travellers from certain sites, which could speed up their removal. It noted that at least 38 local authorities have already sought to impose “no-go zones” for travellers and a Supreme Court ruling on 29 November 2023 confirmed that councils can use injunctions in this way, provided that a number of legal tests are met.


Councillor Loy concluded by saying: “We have a clear choice. Either we sit on our hands and tell increasingly frustrated residents that there is nothing more we can do. Or we can be proactive, investigate the options available, and strive to prevent the annual disruption which residents face and the costs which this council incurs in dealing with illegal encampments”.


The motion was passed following an amendment by the Labour Group.


Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Loy said: “I’m glad the council has at least agreed it should review its policy. However, I was shocked to hear the Greens call it “an appalling use of council time” to discuss any restrictions on travellers. This is a real concern for many residents and can’t just be brushed under the carpet in the name of political correctness.”


Bradford Council currently provides two official sites for travellers, at Mary Street and Esholt.

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