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Local MP Peter Luff has backed the call from businesses for more action to stop the damage being done to them by illegal traveller encampments.
A meeting held on 4th September was called by the MP after discussions with a number of firms who have incurred huge costs and serious disruption due to travellers and their caravans on both the Berry Hill and Hampton Lovett estates.

Also in attendance at the meeting at the premises of Roger Dyson Ltd on the Berry Hill industrial estate - and contributing to the discussion - were representatives from West Mercia Constabulary, the Gypsy Liaison Unit at the County Council and from Wychavon District Council, including both the legal and planning departments.

The main areas of concern were:

- Theft from businesses by those occupying the caravans
- Significant additional cost including expensive security measures to deter trespass and theft and to clean up the sites after the departure of the travellers (one local business had had to undertake capital expenditure of 70,000 this year alone)
-Road safety issues caused by inappropriate location of caravans (at least one traveller's child was nearly killed this year on the estate)
- A broad range of health and safety issues raised by the travellers' behaviour ranging from the lack of sanitation for the caravans and the use of public places as lavatories to the inappropriate entry of travellers onto commercial property.

Commenting, Peter Luff said,

"I am clear that the situation is now so serious on both estates that further action must be taken to reduce the impact of these regular occupations.

"The police and district councils agreed a range of modest practical measures that could be implemented quickly to assist businesses, including the circumstances under which the police could use their discretionary powers under the relevant legislation.

"On the Berry Hill estate, however, it was felt more significant steps were needed to reduce the impact of the travellers' unacceptable behaviour."

Peter has written to the Director of Environmental Services at Worcestershire County Council saying,

“Two specific suggestions were put forward which I am requesting your department to investigate.

1. The erection of a permanent 24 hour manned security barrier across the entrance to the Berry Hill Estate. It was acknowledged that this might pose challenges for some users of the estate who received or made frequent deliveries, but if the businesses on the estates could agree on a way forward, would the County Council give its approval to the erection of such a barrier?
2. Alternatively, or perhaps in addition, the making of a traffic regulation order (the meeting discussed a by-law) which would essentially prohibit any caravans being brought onto the estate. The precise details would need to be agreed in case any business needed to bring a caravan for commercial purposes, but in principle, would the County be prepared to consider such a regulation?”

Peter added,

“The meeting also discussed the reasons for Droitwich being targeted by travellers to such an extent and there was a discussion about the provision of travellers’ sites in the county. It was made clear that Wychavon has done more than any other council in the county to make such provision and it is therefore reasonable to expect assistance from the relevant public bodies in dealing with this very worrying situation.

“We all agreed that the majority of travellers cause no problem at Droitwich or elsewhere in the county – but the small and deeply anti-social majority who stop so frequently on the industrial estates of Droitwich are a very different matter. It is time firm action was taken to deal with their behaviour.”

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