Action promised as Travellers’ moves prove costly for taxpayer

Travellers pictured at Blackpool Road North playing fields, St Annes.
Travellers pictured at Blackpool Road North playing fields, St Annes.

A group of travellers has been accused of ‘exhausting taxpayers’ resources’ by repeatedly moving on council-owned land.

Fylde Council is fighting a second legal battle in the space of three days against the group who arrived in the borough on Sunday night.

While I have nothing against this group the law is the law

Mark Menzies

The travellers, arrived at playing fields on Blackpool Road North, St Annes, on Sunday evening.

On Monday a welfare assessment was carried out and a Direction to Leave notice was issued.

Following this, the travellers were issued with a summons to court that same afternoon and the Council was successful in obtaining a 24 hour eviction order.

The same group has now moved onto open space at the junction of Rodney Avenue and Frobisher Drive in St Annes – forcing Fylde to start fresh legal proceedings.

Council chiefs have spoken to the travellers who they claim intend to keep moving onto land without permission requiring the authority to repeat the legal process at a significant cost to the taxpayer.

Chief Executive of Fylde Council Allan Oldfield said: “This group is exhausting tax payers’ resources and, when on site, are driving cars erratically, letting off flares, allowing multiple dogs to roam unattended – in very close proximity to residential properties. 

“They have shown little respect towards authority and the occupation of public open space is disrupting summer activities for local children and displacing local residents.”

Fylde Councillors are now asking for tougher action to be taken in order to permanently move this group of travellers out of the Fylde area.

Leader of the Council Sue Fazackerley said: “While the council respects and values all cultures it is not acceptable that a group of individuals is able to flout the law time and again without redress and, at the same time, disrupt the local community with anti-social behaviour - all at the tax payers expense.

“I have instructed officers to investigate every legal means available to us to prevent this group and others from setting up illegal camps on any public open space in Fylde.”

Fylde MP Mark Menzies has called on the Government to step in and support Fylde in its legal fight.

He said: “I have been contacted about this issue by a number of local residents who feel it is inappropriate for this group to be settling on land which is not designed for residential dwelling and does not have the appropriate facilities.

“The council has been quick to secure a court order moving the travellers off the popular playing fields at Blackpool Road North. However, that has meant they have now moved to another site nearby.

“This type of action costs local authorities a great deal of money and officer time, which should be being spent carrying out their regular daily duties.

“I have written to the Department of Communities and Local Government to highlight the pressure this puts on Fylde Council, at a time when it is important resources are spent wisely, and to request any assistance which may be available to the local authority.

“In that letter I have also questioned whether current legislation goes far enough to support local councils and private landowners to protect their sites.

“I have also written to the Chief Executive of Fylde Council to praise their quick action while urging him to take all necessary legal measures in order to ensure travellers do not settle on an illegal site in Fylde for any length of time.

“While I have nothing against this group, the law is the law and it is imperative they do not disrupt local communities by settling on land which is not allocated for that purpose.”

Last month a group of travellers were evicted from playing fields in Blackpool following legal action from the local authority.