Unauthorised traveller encampments are costing council 400 per cent more year on year

Travellers pictured at the previous Nowton Park site
Travellers pictured at the previous Nowton Park site
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Illegal traveller encampments have cost St Edmundsbury Borough Council 400 per cent more this year in court fees alone.

A Freedom of Information request by the Bury Free Press has revealed that by last month the council had already incurred court fees of £1,600 for 2013.

It has seen nine encampments this year, requiring seven sets of court fees, including £200 in March, £200 in June, £600 in July, £200 in August and a further £400 in September.

This is a 400 per cent rise on last year when there were five encampments and two sets of court fees, which had itself seen a 400 per cent increase on 2011 when there were three encampments and no court fees.

The most recently obtained court order, a section 78, was served on an unauthorised traveller encampment at Nowton Park, in Bury St Edmunds, on Thursday, giving it 24 hours to leave.

The group moved to council-owned land near the Cotton Lane allotments in Bury, known as Ram Meadow, where the number of caravans has reduced from nine to six.

A council spokeswoman said: “St Edmundsbury Borough Council is now initiating the protocol for dealing with unauthorised encampments, which will lead to a welfare assessment and then a case conference.”

The council does not record officer time and clean-up costs associated with dealing with illegal encampments.

It says the time staff spend on it forms part of their day-to-day work and that clean-up costs are absorbed into the council’s weekly collection service.

But, from September 2-9 this year, it did incur an additional £781.68 in labour costs and £2,241.29 in clean-up costs.

Additional costs in the sum of £480 were incurred in 2012.