Travellers' £2,500 bill

PUBLISHED: 15:01 13 September 2006 | UPDATED: 09:51 24 May 2010

TAXPAYERS have been left to foot a £2,500 bill for clearing up an illegal traveller encampment in Wraxall. The travellers moved on to the playing field at The Elms in July, setting up camp and staying 10 days before moving on to Weston-super-Mare. North S

TAXPAYERS have been left to foot a £2,500 bill for clearing up an illegal traveller encampment in Wraxall.The travellers moved on to the playing field at The Elms in July, setting up camp and staying 10 days before moving on to Weston-super-Mare.North Somerset Council was forced to send out staff to carry out a mass clean up of the site which had been strewn with human faeces and toilet roll.The excrement had been left on pathways, in hedges and smeared across the children's play equipment.Trees had also been cut down with piles of branches and brash left across the site and fences damaged. Bags of rubbish had been left across the field and dogs allowed to foul on the grass.The site at Wraxall was one of 10 which had to be cleaned up across North Somerset this year following traveller encampments.In total the cost of tidying up all the sites reached nearly £5,000.Now Nailsea councillor Andy Cole, who worked with the residents and North Somerset Council to get the travellers moved on, says tougher measures - including crushing the travellers caravans - need to be implemented. Councillor Cole said: "I think it is disgraceful that travellers can flout the law, cause a great deal of criminal damage and then just drive off to another location and repeat the nightmare somewhere else."Unfortunately North Somerset Council, and ultimately the council taxpayers, will have to pay for all the damage at the Wraxall site because the legal process dictates no other option. I advocate a change in the law or possibly a new law whereby in a similar trespass situation, travellers or gypsies occupying land illegally are instructed to move off that land the same day."If they do not the council and police move in and remove the caravans and have them crushed."I attach no blame to North Somerset Council. Each time I contacted officers at the town hall to remedy the situation, they acted accordingly and speedily."The upshot was that they were able to get a court order very quickly and evict the travellers off the site within 10 days."North Somerset Council is now planning to upgrade security at the entrance to the park by installing sturdier gates and bollards.

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