2nd October 2023 at 6pm at the BAY Centre
Present: Town Councillor Sharon Perry (SP)
Chris Hall (CH) – Executive Director, Community Services, Somerset
Jonathan Eamer (JE) – Neighbourhood Police Sergeant, Somerset and
Town Clerk and Deputy Clerk
Town Councillor Mathews and 36 members of the public
Councillor Perry welcomed everyone to the meeting and began by passing on
Councillor Millard’s apologies for not being able to attend.
JE had been involved with the group who set up in Cassis Close in May and gave
some background to the process of evicting unauthorised encampments, which have
restrictions, although the Police have powers under S60, S61 Acts etc.
Travellers often turn up at a site late on a Friday and the Police are usually called.
The Police then have to notify the landowner and, in the case of Cassis Close, this is
Somerset Council. At this stage this is a civil matter and often the 24 hour notice to
leave is not served until the Monday/Tuesday. If the travellers do not leave, the
Council then has to obtain a Court Order and if they don’t leave by the date required
bailiffs can be instructed. This whole process can take around 10 days.
CH also explained that when a Council doesn’t have a transit site for travellers to
use, the Council have to go through the Courts as they do not have the power to
move them on. The Council needs to abide by the law but could make Somerset
less attractive for stopping by making sites less accessible. The Police and
Somerset Council are now working together to try and speed up the process.
Residents were given the opportunity to raise issues and ask questions, which were
answered by CH and JE. They included;
- Travellers seem to have more rights that the general public. Do they pay for
parking. Are checks done to see if their vehicles are insured? Vehicles are
insured and taxed and the Council could issue a parking ticket, although this
is not the best option and doesn’t deter them.
- One resident stated that parking wardens were instructed to stay clear from
- How has the new law changed things and why isn’t is quicker?
- If locks are removed, why can’t they be charged with criminal damage?
- The ‘lego blocks’ that have been installed will hinder medics if there is an
accident on the pitch. Travellers can still access the car park.
- When the police have been called because a resident was being threatened,
it took over 12 hours for the Police Officers to arrive.
- Is there any way of having an advanced warning system, if travellers are in
- A zero tolerance policy needs to be implemented.
- What are home owners’ rights, if people come on to a private property?
During the meeting several residents spoke of incidents that had occurred
when the travellers had been in Cassis Close, including: having to cancel
groups attending the site which effected income; people were frightened;
people were threatened; water was being taken from residents’ gardens; there
was anti-social behaviour with loud music being played and dogs barking.
The impact on the residents and users of Cassis Close was not being taken
Residents were advised to report all problems to the Police through 101,
which will help the Police to take more affirmative action quicker. If a
crime/criminal damage is in process, call 999. Residents should not put
themselves in danger.
The Police and Council are working together to try and speed up the
timeframe for issuing the notice. The Council also has a statutory duty to
undertake welfare checks.
The ‘lego blocks’ have been installed as a temporary measure, although this
is not guaranteed to stop travellers entering the site. The longer term plan is
for bunds to be built. Trying to prevent access until it is needed is difficult to
There is not going to be a perfect solution, although the Police and Somerset
Council are trying to be as proactive as possible.
At the end of the meeting it was agreed that a further meeting should be
arranged in 3-4 months.
Councillor Perry thanked CH and JE for responding to the concerns and
thanked everyone for attending.