Rosie Cooper MP

Working hard for the people of West Lancashire

06/06/06 MP Rosie working to find a solution on traveller and gy

Labour MP Rosie Cooper met with key local agencies prior to meeting with Government Minister

In two weeks time Rosie Cooper MP will be discussing with Government Ministers the problems being caused by gypsies and travellers in West Lancashire. Rosie chaired a meeting on Thursday afternoon with local officials to discuss the rising problem of Gypsy and Travellers that is affecting communities across West Lancashire.

Over the past few months West Lancashire, particularly Skelmersdale, has seen an increase in travellers locating on unauthorized sites. This has been a growing problem within the community as well as one angering many local residents and creating tensions with travellers. As a result, Rosie called a meeting with local agencies to discuss how they deal with problems and what more can be done to help agencies in addressing the gypsy and traveller issue.

This meeting is in preparation for a meeting Rosie will be having with Ministers from the Department for Communities and Local Government later this month. It is her plan to use the valuable suggestions and concerns noted this afternoon to provide ministers with insight into the realities local authorities and residents face in West Lancashire. And to find solutions that will mean local people do not endure these problems to the same extent.

Rosie said:

“I have received a huge number of complaints from local residents complaining about the illegal encampments. I have seen for myself the dangerous materials and rubbish that has been dumped on the roadsides. Local people should not have to accept these conditions nor should local taxpayers have to cover the cleaning up costs.”

“We need to find better and more effective ways of dealing with the illegal gypsy and traveller encampments. I am firmly committed to finding a way to achieve this goal. Everybody realises that it will undoubtedly be difficult.”

“I have arranged a meeting with Meg Munn, the Minister responsible for gypsy and travellers issues. The purpose of this meeting with local agencies was to bring together all the relevant local people who deal with gypsies and travellers day to day to discuss the West Lancashire specific issues.”

Bill Taylor, Chief Executive for West Lancashire District Council, District Councillors, police officials, local authorities in housing as well as waste management, and gypsy representatives all attended the meeting. The Police officials said they needed a more structured protocol to deal with removing gypsies from unauthorized sites more quickly. Police officials noted they need to balance the rights of community as well as travellers and as a result, more cooperation that is multi-agency needs to take place.

Throughout the meeting, Rosie Cooper largely facilitated the meeting by asking the different parties present their concerns to spark discussion on specific issues. Issues on the ability for local authorities to act quickly enough, transit sites, fly tipping, and others where all discussed. The long-term solution to this problem is one that received much debate, with Rosie Cooper stating, “We need to think outside the box in order to rightfully deliver to the people and take the tensions out so residents can live happily.” 

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