Council considers £160k traveller plan

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Crawley Borough Council is to consider pumping more than £160,000 into a county wide scheme to provide a travellers’ site in Chichester.

A report due to go before a meeting of the Cabinet on Wednesday (January 15) lays out proposals for the site – known as a transit site – which would be provided through a partnership with all district and borough councils in the county.

The report explained the presence of a transit site in the county would increase powers available to the police when it came to dealing with unauthorised traveller incursions.

It stated: “If such a site was available, the police could direct the unauthorised campers to the site. If they do not leave when directed, or they return to the county area within three months of being directed, they would be committing a criminal offence.”

Over the past five years, 25 unauthorised encampments have sprung up in Crawley – 15 on borough council land, two on West Sussex County Council land and eight on private land.

The report stated that, although the numbers had fallen in recent years, “the risk is ever present, with significant resource implications for the council”.

Members of the Cabinet have been recommended to agree to joining the partnership, subject to all authorities in the county confirming likewise.

The scheme would cost around £1.3m to implement – some £162,500 from each authority. This figure could be reduced to £95,000, allowing for a successful application for grant funding. On top of that, would be annual revenue costs of £10-15,000.

The aim is to have the site up and running by March 31 2015.

Supporting the proposal, Cllr Duncan Crow, Cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “I am determined to keep unauthorised encampments at very low levels in Crawley and this transit site will help to future-proof this aim.

“The police will have more powers to move travellers on much more quickly and the taxpayer will benefit from not having the legal and clear-up costs that are typically associated with having to deal with unauthorised encampments.”