Glastonbury travellers will be evicted say police

Glastonbury travellers WILL be evicted – after council were forced to provide them with water, toilets and rubbish collections for a year during Covid lockdown

  • Bailiffs have begun moving on the travellers in the Glastonbury area after a year 
  • Travellers were encouraged to stop and settle last year to stop spread of Covid  
  • Police and three local authorities are now starting to evict the travellers  

Police will start evicting Glastonbury travellers after three local councils were forced to provide them with water, toilets and rubbish collections for a year during Covid lockdown.  

Bailiffs and ‘civil enforcers’ have begun moving on the travellers, just over a year after they were encouraged to stop and settle to stop the spread of coronavirus.

In a bid to finally take action against the travellers, a ‘Multi-Agency Group’ was set up, consisting of Avon and Somerset police and all three local authorities – Somerset County Council, Mendip District Council and Glastonbury Town Council.

Since the start of the pandemic, travellers, Gypsies and people living in vans were encouraged to stay put where they were in Glastonbury – a town which has long been a Mecca for travellers and those pursuing an alternative lifestyle.

Police will start evicting Glastonbury travellers after three local councils were forced to provide them with water, toilets and rubbish collections for a year during Covid lockdown

Local council chiefs even put in sanitation facilities at several spots around the town, as part of efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus, and provide van-dwellers with alternative facilities with places like leisure centres, shops, public toilets and libraries closed in lockdown.

But now, with lockdown easing, and the big step taken on May 17, the authorities said the van-dwellers and travellers have been told they are no longer welcome on the streets, estates and sites in Glastonbury – and they should move on.

Back in February, residents living in Bretenoux Road, and people living on the surrounding Redlands estate in the Mendip town, expressed concerns that the presence of so many van-dwellers living in the streets was having a negative effect on their area.

Back then, Mendip District Council told residents that while there was a pandemic, moving them on would be a last resort.

Now, with the May 17 lockdown easing, that relaxation is over, and the travellers are being told to move.

Pictured: Caravans and vans lined up along Bretenoux Road on the Redlands estate in Glastonbury

The ‘Multi-Agency Group’ issued a joint statement, on behalf of police and all three local councils, saying they were working to find a long-term solution to so many people living in vans in Glastonbury.

‘We’d like to thank the people of Glastonbury for their continuing patience and want to reassure them we are working together to find a long-term solution to the issues of unauthorised encampments in the town,’ the statement said.

‘A Multi-Agency Group (MAG) consisting of Avon and Somerset Police, Somerset County Council, Glastonbury Town Council and Mendip District Council is now in place. Together we are focused on identifying ways to limit these recurring unauthorised encampments and explore a number of potential options for long-term solutions.

‘A number of sub-groups have been formed as part of the MAG focusing on specific areas such as land and enforcement. The MAG will work closely with the community to consider next steps and will engage and communicate progress as we move forward,’ it added.

The statement explained that on Tuesday, May 4 – a fortnight before lockdown was lifted, people staying in ‘unauthorised encampments’ were advised that on May 17, the free sanitation provided would be taken away, and that civil enforcement activity could start from that date.

‘We now confirm the civil enforcement process has started,’ the statement added.

‘Throughout the pandemic, Local Authorities were instructed by Government to take steps to prevent the spread of Coronavirus within communities, and so discourage gypsy and traveller groups from moving from area to area.

‘Local provision of sanitation, water, bins, refuse collections, and the issuing of health advice were therefore put in place. In line with the national roadmap and the lifting of national restrictions, these services will now be removed.

‘Although we hope this will be a quick process and those living on unauthorised encampments will abide by the law and leave sites from this date, we would like to advise residents of the next steps we’ll take if this does not occur,’ the statement said.

The MAG group warned residents it might take time to reach a point where enforcement means vans are physically moved on by the authorities, if the van-dwellers themselves haven’t moved before then, or are refusing to.

‘If unauthorised encampments remain after May 17, it’s imperative we follow all correct and legal processes as we enforce. Glastonbury residents have shown tolerance and patience and will understand we have a duty of care for those living on unauthorised encampments, and the need to get this right,’ the statement said.

‘Firstly, welfare checks will occur at each site to identify any needs – which the Local Authority then must consider. Those deemed able to move (ie those with no welfare needs) but choose to remain, will be served with the relevant notices.

‘Failure to comply with those notices may lead to court hearings where the Council can apply for a Court Order to remove remaining vehicles.

‘Once the Court Orders have been obtained, bailiffs can be instructed to attend and clear sites. This process can take time as support is put in place to those with genuine welfare concerns.

‘Every effort will be taken to complete this as quickly as possible, but always within the confines of the law, the powers in our gift, and taking into account the welfare needs of those living in unauthorised encampments.

‘Again, thank you for your patience, your tolerance and your understanding – qualities which are at the heart of what makes Glastonbury such a great place to live and work.’ 

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