12:31PM, Friday 24 August 2018
A ditch that was dug on land in Dedworth to stop travellers setting up an unauthorised camp poses a safety risk, it has been claimed.
Opposition councillor Wisdom Da Costa (Ind, Clewer North) said residents had complained to him about the trench, which was dug on Friday, August 17.
Travellers arrived at the land off Whiteley that morning, for the third time in a year, but the council carved out a ditch on the edge of the land by the pavement later that day.
Cllr Da Costa welcomed the work as a deterrent but said he worried about people falling into the ditch or tripping over barriers, which he said had fallen over.
He said: “I think the council needs to get back in there and landscape so aesthetically it looks better and prevent it being a hazard.”
But Cllr Jesse Grey (Con, Datchet), the cabinet member for environmental services, was unconvinced.
“It’s not a problem,” he said.
“Officers have looked at it.”
But he pledged to look at the issue if residents came forward.
Speaking about building the ditch, Cllr Grey said: “That was just something we did very quickly for the residents because there was some sort of suspicion they (the travellers) were going to come back. So we just took a very quick precaution.”
Cllr Da Costa has been calling for the council to produce a list of sites vulnerable to unauthorised traveller use and has specifically talked about Whiteley.
A plan to prevent unauthorised traveller encampments in the Royal Borough is set to belaunched by the end of the month.
Those could include trenches or barriers which should make it harder for vehicles to get onto land.
“Whatever is conducive to that particular area,” Cllr Grey said, adding that a consultation will be launched about fortifying vulnerable land.
The council is exploring the possibilities of using a court injunction which would ban unauthorised traveller encampments.
Councillors are also in the process of putting together a plan for sites which travellers will have permission to use.
Neighbouring Slough Borough Council said this week that it will not use measures like trenches, as they would restrict access for legitimate vehicles used to maintain its grounds.
The race to get as many people vaccinated against coronavirus has ramped up in the Royal Borough and Slough amidst an ongoing rise in cases across the country.