Councillors demand traveller 'problem' must be tackled amid fears over cost of clean-up
Travellers have been slammed for causing chaos across south Bucks this week – with residents fearing a vigilante army could be forced to take them on.
Councillors have demanded Wycombe’s gypsy and traveller “problem” must be looked at – amid concerns about the cost of clearing up after them on the taxpayer.
It comes after travellers pitched up in a church car park in Hazlemere and then next to a popular High Wycombe trampoline park last week.
Several caravans and other vehicles were seen at the Holy Trinity Church, in Amersham Road, Hazlemere, with the church closing to the public due to “unauthorised usage” on Tuesday.
A group of around six caravans then arrived at the site of Rush UK Trampoline Park, in Cressex Industrial Estate, on Wednesday morning. A number of dogs were also been spotted roaming around the car park.
Cllr Hugh McCarthy, who represents Hazlemere at Wycombe District Council, said the incursions have caused “a lot of stress and a lot of emotion” for residents.
At a meeting of the improvement and review commission on Wednesday night, he said: “It has cost a lot of money for this authority to pick up the bill and do the remedial work and clear up.
“It is such a difficult thing for the public to come to terms with. In fact, in Hazlemere, there were mutterings of sending a people’s army or something – that is bad news. It is a very hot topic for all the district. I know Marlow has suffered recently and others.”
He said the cost of the clean-up after travellers have moved on has left him with “considerable concern”.
Last year, it was revealed that the total cost of cleaning up after travellers left behind 200 tonnes of rubbish at the old Wycombe Sports Centre site in April was £43,000.
Cllr McCarthy added: “I am concerned about the cost of this to our public purse and I wonder if our policies are actually responsive enough and fast-tracked enough. It affects all of us. It should be looked at in greater detail.”
Cllr Catherine Oliver, who represents Hazlemere South, said the incursions affect residents and businesses.
She said: “I had the joyful experience of having travellers in the car park next to me at work. That was a week, and it didn’t cost us because it wasn’t our property, but it costs businesses an awful lot in this district.
“We need to look at preventative measures all the way through to what happens at the end when they leave, but also we need to communicate.
“It’s difficult to get across to residents that the different councils are limited in what they can do. Residents just think we sit here saying ‘it will sort itself out’ or wait until it goes to court.”
The improvement and review commission will now consider setting up a task and finish group to focus on traveller and gypsy incursions across Wycombe.
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