Birmingham MP, Steve McCabe (Birmingham Selly Oak) has today tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) in the House of Commons calling for action to tackle the persistent problem of unauthorised traveller encampments blighting his constituency and South Birmingham.
This week alone there have been unauthorised encampments in Selly Park Recreation Ground, Walkers Heath Park, Housing land in Druids Heath, the Fitness First site in Stirchley and Swanshurst Park. This is just the tip of the iceberg after months of cat and mouse where travellers move onto one park, get evicted then proceed to the next park, before starting the cycle all over again.
Steve McCabe MP has been inundated with complaints from constituents who are angry and frustrated that their local parks and leisure facilities are regularly placed out of bounds due to unauthorised traveller encampments and are very concerned about the cost to the Council, Police and themselves, as tax payers, of the repeated cost of eviction and cleaning up our parks.
Steve McCabe has already raised the matter twice with the Leader of the House of Commons during Business Questions as well as attending a summit with the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner in an effort to get some action over the issue. His colleague Richard Burden (Northfield) who has with other Birmingham MPs also signed the motion is asking for a meeting with council leaders to explore further action. The Early Day Motion is an attempt to force a parliamentary debate on the actions that need to be taken to bring this problem to a satisfactory conclusion.
EDM 183 acknowledges the problem of ineffective responses from various agencies in preventing repeated unauthorised traveller encampments, recognises the human rights of the travellers must be taken into account but calls on the Government to review existing legal powers and procedures available to deal with unauthorised encampments.
Steve McCabe MP said:
“The game of cat and mouse the authorities are having with unauthorised travellers encampments has to stop. It is unfair on my constituents and people all over Birmingham that almost weekly it seems one park or another is out of bounds because of unauthorised encampments. We the tax payers then have to pay repeated eviction, bailiff and clean-up costs – it is just not fair. It’s time the law was used to represent the interests of the law abiding.
“I am calling for the Government to review the existing legal powers available to local authorities and the police so we can more effectively deal with this and take all necessary action to prevent this recurring problem. I am also hoping to hold a debate on this issue so Government Ministers can address this problem directly.”