New group to tackle rising number of traveller camps in Bradford

A group of travellers last month moved on to the football field on Fifth Street, Low Moor, disrupting a Junction FC football match. Pictured is Paul Crowther from the club.

A group of travellers last month moved on to the football field on Fifth Street, Low Moor, disrupting a Junction FC football match. Pictured is Paul Crowther from the club.

First published in News
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A NEW group is being set up to tackle the growing problem of illegal travellers' camps appearing across the district.

It will bring together experts from Bradford Council, police and other bodies to look at how to prevent such camps from springing up and moving them on quickly when they do.

It could discuss whether there is a need for a new authorised travellers' site for shorter-term stays, in addition to the district's two existing official sites.

And it could also explore practical ways of helping travellers clear up after themselves, according to the working party's chairman, Councillor Val Slater.

Cllr Slater, executive member for housing at the Council, said there had been a marked rise in the number of illegal camps appearing this year.

She said many had involved one particular family from outside the district, who had moved round from site to site.

She said: "It does cause distress and problems for people. It stops the residents of Bradford very often going about their normal business.

"Often they are in the way of events that have been organised and we need to have a better way of dealing with this that meets everybody's needs."

Cllr Slater, who took over responsibility for dealing with gypsy and traveller matters this summer, said she was keen to find practical solutions to the problems caused by illegal sites.

She said: "People grumble about them leaving rubbish, but do we give them containers to put their rubbish in? They complain about them toileting in the bushes, but could we give them portable toilets?"

But Cllr Slater added that offering this kind of help could hamper legal efforts to move travellers on, leaving the authorities in a 'Catch 22' situation.

A body which represents gypsies and travellers across the UK said it was important its communities were involved in the discussions.

Joseph Jones, chairman of the Gypsy Council, said: "Gypsies and travellers need to be part of the strategy, because if they are not, then it won't work."

He said priorities should include making sure there were adequate permanent and temporary sites and making sure travellers could access local tips.

The group will meet for the first time on Monday.

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