Plymouth City Council does not tolerate unauthorised encampments on public land and has robust processes in place to move them.
The process to deal with an unauthorised encampment begins on the first working day after the Council has been made aware of one. Last year, unauthorised encampments were moved on within an average of ten days, and so far this year we are averaging eight days. There are a number of steps the Council has to follow by law that include welfare checks at the site that are carried out as soon as possible after notification. Refuse bins and toilets are provided to minimise the impact on communities. Once the site has been vacated the Council will make sure that everything is restored to its previous condition as soon as possible.
Councillor Chris Penberthy, Cabinet Member for Cooperatives and Housing at Plymouth City Council, said: “Plymouth is a diverse and welcoming city and we need to balance the needs of local residents with those of the Gypsy and Traveller community.
“We are working hard to minimise the impact of unauthorised encampments on communities and we ensure the current processes we have in place meet the needs of everyone.
“We understand the impact unauthorised encampments in the city can have, particularly over the summer months, when our parks and recreation grounds are most used and enjoyed by the people of Plymouth.
“Ward councillors and members of the public have asked us to ensure that we move unauthorised encampments as quickly as possible. We are doing this. Unfortunately our actions often mean that the unauthorised encampment relocates to another part of the city. We are doing our best to balance the need to remove an unauthorised encampment as quickly as possible with the impact our actions can have on other communities within the city.
“I’d like to assure residents that we will always act promptly when alerted to unauthorised encampments and would encourage members of the public to alert us as soon as possible.”
In line with the Plymouth Plan, the need for additional Gypsy and Traveller sites in the city is highlighted and work continues towards the development of a 16 pitch transit site. Planning permission is already in place for the development of a site at Broadley Park on the border with South Hams District Council.
To try and reduce the impact of unauthorised encampments we have installed deterrent measures for the most targeted areas. This includes posts recently installed at Glen Park Road playing fields and the planned chain link fence at Prince Rock Playing Fields.