Rosie Cooper MP

Working hard for the people of West Lancashire

28/03/06 LOCAL MP SEEKING A SOLUTION TO THE TRAVELLER QUESTION I

Local MP Rosie Cooper has been contacted by many constituents to raise their concerns over the travellers who have set up camps on various sites across Skelmersdale.

Rosie said:

“I completely share the frustrations and the anger of the people of Skelmersdale affected by travellers who set up camp on industrial sites, fields, waste ground and sports fields.

“One of the most common questions asked is, what am I doing to solve the problem? “Whenever I get complaints into the office and people inform me about new traveller sites the first call is to West Lancashire District Council and local police who hold the powers to act to remove the travellers using extra powers granted to them and have day to day responsibility for obtaining the necessary court orders and for cleaning up afterwards. Often the ownership of the occupied land holds the key to how fast they can be removed.”

"As a Member of Parliament, I do not control any of the services or the authorities who are responsible for taking the necessary action, but I am working very closely with the relevant authorities to address the problems. Skelmersdale is a prime location for traveller settlements given the large areas of industrial and open land on which to park their caravans. This is a problem that affects many communities across the UK since the requirement on Local Authorities to provide regulated sites was removed by the Tories in 1994."

“I believe that this issue must also be addressed at ministerial level because we may need to seek a change in the law to give the police and local authorities even greater powers than they currently have. Therefore, I have written to the Gypsy and Traveller Unit at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to make them aware of the situation in West Lancashire and to get them to find more effective ways of tackling these issues.”

The Gypsy and Traveller Unit in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister responds to growing tensions with certain places between Gypsies and Travellers and the settled community. The Unit works with local authorities and other agencies to address issues relating to Gypsies and travellers, including effective enforcement action. 

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