Plymouth City Council is taking a fresh look at the way it handles unauthorised encampments.
The previous policy, presented last November, listed plans to provide several temporary stopping places (TSPs) around the city as well as placing Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) on sites historically occupied by encampments.
That policy was never implemented and so an improved and updated policy will appear before the city’s Cabinet on 15 January. Changes include adding additional TSPs and clarification around how long encampments can stay.
Councillor Chris Penberthy, Cabinet member for Housing and Cooperative Development, said: “The type of unauthorised encampments that we see in Plymouth are not suitable for anybody. They unsettled residents, cost the Council money and do not provide the appropriate facilities for the Gypsy, Roma and Travelling community.
“The new policy takes into account the concerns of all communities and we believe that by implementing it, we will substantially reduce any negative impact in the city.”
The Council’s current set of procedures allow it to respond to unauthorised encampments that arrive on Council land, engage with all occupants and access welfare needs. Legal action, through the County Court system, then proceeds.
The Council could use other legal powers to immediately evict encampments, but cannot do so because there are no safe sites in the city for the GRT community to use.
However, with the addition of TSPs, PSPOs that forbid the parking of caravans and overnight sleeping could be placed on several green sites across the city. Once they are in place, any unauthorised encampment could then immediately be moved on by the police.
Temporary stopping places will be carefully planned out and will be available to use for no more than three months.
Encampments will be given a six week license, tied to a strict code of conduct, and will be required to pay site fees allowing a safe and suitable place to stay without fear of eviction.
The policy will provide a greater level of certainty for the Gypsy, Roma and Travelling community and cause less of an impact on the settled communities in Plymouth.