The Twickenham Tribune


Council has restricted powers on removal of Ham travellers

During the coronavirus pandemic, in line with the Government guidance on restricting the spread of the virus, the Council has to take account of additional considerations regarding the unauthorised traveller camp in Ham.

Normally, the Council retains the power to work with the Police to ensure travellers move on.Ham Travellers

However, under the new Government Covid19 guidance, councils are being asked to allow traveller sites to stay on council-owned land, to enable them to access vital healthcare during lockdown - provided that they adhere to the law.

Under Government rules, and during the lockdown, unauthorised traveller camps will be allowed provided they do not burn rubbish, drive on footpaths or go to the toilet in the open. They must also not damage the site and abuse, intimidate or harass anyone or participate in any form of antisocial behaviour.

The Council understands that residents are concerned about the presence of the unauthorised camp on Riverside Drive in Ham. However, the authority is currently not legally able to move them on, although we are monitoring the situation closely in order to be in a position to defend any decision to move them on.

Cllr Martin Elengorn, Chair of the Environment and Sustainability Committee, said:

"We know that residents do not like seeing unauthorised camps in our parks and open spaces, particularly when many of us are using these spaces a lot more since the lock down. Neither do we. But our hands are tied.

"Under the new national rules we cannot use our usual powers to evict travelling families from unauthorised encampments and the Government has asked councils to allow those families to stay while the crisis continues. With some vulnerable people among their number, this will allow them to access healthcare and reduce the potential spread of the virus.

"Our Park Guard security team and the Police are currently working with the travellers to ensure that they do not behave illegally whilst staying in the borough. Residents who are concerned about illegal behaviour are able to make reports to the police by calling 111."


 Courtesy London Borough of Richmond upon Thames


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