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Evicting Travellers Bill To Be Introduced To Commons

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DALE FARM EVICTIONS SIMON KIRBY
The Dale Farm Saga Ended With A Dawn Raid After Weeks Of Legal Wrangling | PA

A Tory MP will introduce a Bill to Parliament on Wednesday which would give greater powers to police forces and councils to move on travellers from illegal sites.

Simon Kirby, MP for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven, will present the Bill after PMQs on a 10-minute rule motion.

Although it stands little chance of becoming law in its own right, aspects of the Bill have the sympathies of ministers and could find their way into a government bill later.

Kirby's Bill would revise the 1994 Public Order Act, he says, to give clarity to police and local authorities on who should take the lead on emptying illegal sites.

It also calls for changes to welfare checks, currently compulsory for travellers each time they are moved. He says that every time a traveller camp is removed from one site and established in another one nearby, local authorities must carry out a welfare check before attempting to evict them again.

His Bill would also allow for impounding of travellers vans if the owners do not move on when told to.

Speaking to HuffPost UK, Kirby says while Dale Farm was a high-profile episode, similar scenes happen in Brighton all the time. "There seems to be problems between the police and the local council on who is making the decisions whether to move people on or not.

"If people want to lead an alternative lifestyle, that's fine. But it's really about providing certainty and support for the settled community who are often very worried about travellers appearing overnight in residential areas."

"One of the issues in Brighton and Hove is that the travellers move from one site to the next, and they play the game by the rules that they're allowed to. Welfare checks are right and proper, but it seems ridiculous having moved travellers from one site to another, possibly only yards down the road, that the council then has go back to square one."

Several Tory MPs have indicated they will support the motion, and the Home Secretary Theresa May indicated on Monday that the government was looking at the issue.

"We are currently looking at whether we need to give extra powers to the police on clearing encampments," she told MPs during Home Office questions.

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