Alok Sharma, Member of Parliament for Reading West, has welcomed the announcement that there will be a consultation on illegal and unauthorised development and encampments.
The consultation, supported by the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, will ask a series of specific questions relating to: local authority and police powers; court processes; trespass; planning enforcement; the provision of authorised sites, and the impacts on the travelling community.
During his time as the Minister for Housing and Planning, Alok led a very well attended debate in Parliament last autumn about the Government’s position on gypsy and traveller communities. Whilst it was clear that those MPs attending the debate wanted traveller communities to be treated with respect, many MPs voiced their concerns about illegal encampments being an issue for law-abiding citizens. Examples were shared, from across the country, where illegal encampments were causing disruption to settled communities. Alok gave particular local examples of where unauthorised encampments have become an issue in Reading West. At the time of the debate, Alok informed MPs that the Government would come forward with a consultation seeking the public’s views.
Alok Sharma said: “Having started the work on this consultation during my time as Housing Minister, I am absolutely delighted with the announcement from my successor, Dominic Raab MP, that this consultation has now been launched. Over the past months there have been incursions of unauthorised encampments within my constituency in Tilehurst, Calcot and off the Oxford Road and I know how frustrated local residents are over this issue. I would urge all constituents who have concerns about illegal encampments to respond to this consultation so that the Government gets a very clear message about the strength of feeling from law-abiding local communities about this matter.”
Writing to fellow MPs about the consultation, Dominic Raab MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, noted: “Honourable members raised their concerns about the impact of unauthorised development and encampments with the Secretary of State and my predecessor in debates late last year, in particular on the impact on local communities. We heard a clear message that despite an array of enforcement powers already in place, tackling unauthorised development and encampments remains a significant issue. This is why we committed to consult on the effectiveness of enforcement against unauthorised developments and encampments. I want to seek views on whether there is anything we can do to ensure that existing powers can be used more effectively, as well as whether additional powers may be necessary.”
The consultation, which will run until 15 June 2018, will seek views from all those with an interest, including local authorities, the police, local residents and community groups and the travelling community, and can be found online here: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/powers-for-dealing-with-unauthorised-development-and-encampments.