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Borough response to unauthorised traveller camps 'disappointing', says councillor

The council’s response to unauthorised traveller camps has been ‘disappointing’ despite £80,000 being made available to combat them, according to one councillor.

A group of travellers set up an encampment in Whiteley, in Dedworth, on Friday – the day after Cllr Jesse Grey (Con, Datchet) said that measures would be taken ‘immediately’ to protect vulnerable sites from travellers.

Cllr Wisdom Da Costa (Ind, Clewer North), said: “It’s a little bit disappointing that there is not a list of vulnerable sites and there’s no plan of action.

“We really need to be planning to succeed.”

At a full council meeting on Thursday, July 19, Cllr Grey said that £80,000 of the capital budget has been set aside to prevent travellers from entering council-owned land, with ditches, bollards and walls to be built on vulnerable sites.

Travellers arrived in Whiteley on Friday but after Thames Valley Police issued them with a Section 61 order, they had left the site by Saturday afternoon.

Cllr Da Costa praised the police and the council for ensuring the issue was resolved quickly but questioned why Whiteley was not on a list of vulnerable sites, because travellers had set up an unauthorised encampment on there a year ago.

He said: “There’s still a lot of questions to ask, and information still to come out.

“We have to provide them with facilities.”

At the full council meeting, Cllr David Coppinger said that 14 legal sites will be provided in the borough for travellers.

Cllr Coppinger this week said that no landowners in the borough had agreed to have a traveller site on their land yet, but that he was confident that they would get built.

Once a landowner has given permission for a site to be built on their land, planning permission for each site must be given before work can be done.

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