TRAVELLERS should be made to foot the bill when they are evicted from illegal sites, according to an MP.

Shipley MP Philip Davies said it was "a scandal" that Bradford Council did not already chase travellers for the costs of removing them from unauthorised camps on its land and cleaning up afterwards.

Mr Davies had written to Bradford Council after travellers were moved on from the Buck Lane business park site in Baildon in July, asking whether the authority would be billing them for the eviction and clear-up costs.

But he was told it was not currently Council policy to do so.

Mr Davies said: "I think it is outrageous that they are not pursued for the costs of clearing up after them.

"It will be costing well into the thousands of pounds. If you or I were to behave in this manner, the Council would be relentless in pursuing us.

"My view is everybody should be treated equally. It's another example of the Council pussyfooting around travellers in a way they wouldn't pussyfoot around anyone else."

Councillor Val Slater, the executive member for housing at the Labour-run Council, said she agreed it was unfair for Council taxpayers to foot the bill, and that it was an issue her new multi-agency working party on travellers could look into.

But she said it was very difficult to bill someone who did not have a fixed address.

She said: "I share people's frustrations about the mess that is left and about the Council - and that means the Council taxpayer - having to pay to clear it all up and pay the legal fees.

"That is very frustrating but actually, as usual, Philip Davies, is speaking off the top of his head."

And Mr Davies' suggestion has been labelled "a nonsense" by a national gypsy and traveller organisation.

Gypsy Council chairman Joseph Jones said: "When you make someone homeless, they have nowhere to live, so you can't really take legal action against them.

"It's something good to say on a soap box and beat your chest over. But what are they going to do, seize the caravans and sell them?"

Mr Jones said the problem stemmed from a national shortage of authorised travellers' sites, and urged Mr Davies to look at this issue instead.

He said: "He should not be focusing on the problem, he should be focusing on the solution."