Communities secretary Eric Pickles has urged councils to “clamp down quickly” on unauthorised traveller sites, claiming that officers too often “wash their hands and say nothing can be done.”
His claim came as the Department for Communities & Local Government issued local authorities with a guide to their legal powers in relation to traveller sites, protest camps and squatters.
The guide, published today, said councils “should be ready to take swift enforcement action and use the tough powers available to tackle rogue encampments and sites.”
This included the use of pre-emptive injunctions, possession orders, powers of entry and enforcement notices.
Mr Pickles has also revoked equalities guidance that said councils should take into account the background of the individuals involved when applying planning rules.
Mr Pickles said: “We’ve strengthened councils’ powers so they have the confidence to take decisive action. Too often, council officers wash their hands, and say nothing can be done. This is not the case.”
The DCLG said in a statement councils “merely need the political will to uphold the law”.
However, Joseph Jones, chair of the Gypsy Council, told Sky News Mr Pickles’ move was “creating tension” and was “a negative thing to do”.