Rise in illegal Traveller camps across county

A10 WEEK 46'MCBH'rd'Gypsies at Stewkley
A10 WEEK 46'MCBH'rd'Gypsies at Stewkley

The number of Travellers setting up unauthorised sites in the county has increased for the first time in eight years, according to new figures.

The Northamptonshire Countywide Traveller Unit (CTU) says there were 78 unauthorised encampments in the county from February 2011 to March this year.

It means that Northamptonshire has had an increase in Travellers pitching up in areas they should not be for the first time since the CTU was formed.

But the numbers have dwindled over that period, with 253 unauthorised encampments between April 2004 and March 2005.

Steve Wilkinson, manager of the CTU, said: “This is the first increase for several years, and it looks like we will continue to see an increase this year.

“What we’ve seen is that Travellers have come to the county to visit relatives, and have pitched up by the road or other unauthorised areas.

“But we’re also never going to eradicate the problem, so perhaps it is just a spike. The situation is much better than it was when we began though.”

The CTU liaises with Travellers in unauthorised encampments, and takes into account various factors when deciding what to do with families. If a group is causing trouble, the CTU can start an eviction process quickly.

Police powers were used to evict a large encampment in Kettering last year, as well as 23 caravans in parkland in Corby in June 2011.

In 2011/12, Corby had the least number of encampments in the county with three, and Wellingborough had five. East Northamptonshire had six, and Kettering had seven.

Kettering councillor Alison Wiley, who represents the Welland ward which saw Travellers move in illegally last year, said: “I have sympathy with my consituents in Braybrooke who feel there is an overcrowding of Travellers in the area.”