Weston Mercury: John says stronger and simpler powers to tackle illegal encampments have been proposed and “can’t come soon enough”

Piles of rubbish and human excrement have been left in a Weston-super-Mare car park by a group of travellers.

Around 20 caravans arrived at Melrose car park last week, while another group set up camp on the Beach Lawns.

North Somerset Council issued both groups with a direction to leave and the authority is going to court to obtain a possession order so it can evict them.

Councillors are now pushing for a change in the law to enable local authorities to take immediate action to evict travellers.

Cllr John Crockford-Hawley said: “The situation is intolerable. These people know the law inside out and any hint of persecution is hit with immediate response from certain well-placed lawyers. “It would be relatively easy to put up barriers at the Melrose carpark but impossible to cordon off Beach Lawns.

“Councillors are fed up getting the blame.”

Weston’s MP John Penrose said: “Most travellers park on authorised sites, but a few pitch up illegally and create havoc with anything from antisocial behaviour to littering.

“There are legal powers for the police and council to use, but they’re complicated and slow, and often just push the problem a few miles down the road instead of solving it.

“I and other MPs have been pushing ministers for a better answer and, to be fair, they’ve listened.

“They’ve proposed making it a criminal offence to set up illegal traveller sites, enforced by stronger and simpler powers for local councils too. These changes can’t come soon enough.”