Traveller clear up costs raised in Commons

South West Bedfordshire MP, Andrew Selous, has raised the concerns of local people about the clear up costs of unauthorised traveller encampments in the Commons.

The exchange in Hansard was as follows:

Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire)

May we have an urgent debate on the importance of equality under the law in promoting community cohesion? If I were to gain access to land illegally, cause damage and leave a large amount of litter, I would expect the full force of the law to come down on me in terms of paying for that damage and the clear-up costs, and my constituents would expect the same. Last year, about £250,000 was spent in my constituency cleaning up after Travellers. Houghton Regis Town Council has just had to spend another £4,500 after an incursion on the Green. People are fair-minded, but they want the law to apply to everyone and that helps us all to live peacefully and well together.

Andrea Leadsom

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise the issue of littering. Whether we are talking about fly-tipping or the mess left by people who are camping illegally, more needs to be done. This is certainly one of the top five or six issues that people raise when they are asked what the problems are in their communities. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is taking this very seriously, having introduced the first English national litter strategy. He is right to raise this and he may well want to seek an Adjournment debate so that he can discuss it further with Ministers.

Andrew Selous said

“There is a lot of anger from local people at the money spent from their taxes on bailiff costs and the clearing up of litter. This is money that cannot be spent on important local services. The government consultation on this issue that has just closed needs to come up with practical answers urgently.”