Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, has called on Reading Borough Council to take action to prevent the unlawful use of Prospect Park by travellers.
The intervention comes at the request of local residents who have been subjected to various forms of anti-social behaviour and threats by groups of travellers who have been camping unlawfully in Prospect Park in recent weeks. Alok has liaised with Thames Valley Police in respect of removal of two separate groups of travellers and welcomed the Council’s input in helping with these evictions, but has been made aware by constituents today that travellers have returned for a third time in as many weeks.
In a letter sent last week to Simon Warren, the Interim Managing Director of Reading Borough Council, Alok has formally requested that the Council should take preventative action to permanently stop unwanted vehicle access to Prospect Park. In the letter, Alok has suggested that the Council could use Section 106 money from local developers to install bollards on the perimeter of that section of Prospect Park that is liable to be easily mounted by vehicles.
The full text of Alok Sharma’s letter to Simon Warren is as follows:
“Dear Mr Warren,
As you will be aware, during the last two weeks, two separate groups of travellers occupied a section of Prospect Park on two separate occasions.
I was contacted by a number of my constituents regarding these encampments and, on both occasions, I liaised with Thames Valley Police in respect of removal of the travellers. I am also grateful for the Council’s input in this regard.
However, with two occurrences in such a short space of time and in view of the fact that my constituents were subjected to various forms of anti-social behaviour and threats by the travellers, my constituents and I are keen for a permanent solution to be found. It has been suggested that bollards could be installed on the perimeter of that section of Prospect Park that is liable to be easily mounted by vehicles. This would deter future groups of travellers camping there as it would prevent unwanted vehicular access to that part of the park.
I understand that Gable Homes Ltd is liable to make a S106 contribution of £21,000 for “the provision of open space, sport and recreation infrastructure within Prospect Park” in respect of a development at the former Brooklands Garage, 330 Tilehurst Road. My constituents have suggested that this money could be used to fund the installation of such preventative measures.
It is possible that the S106 contribution of Gable Homes has already been allocated to other projects. If that is the case, I would suggest that it would be more cost effective for the Council, and the tax-paying residents of Reading, to fund the installation of appropriate preventative measures from the general budget. The alternative is incurring the expense of dealing with and clearing up after travellers every time they choose to pitch up at Prospect Park.
I would therefore be grateful if you could review the above suggestion and indicate, in a manner that I may share with my constituents, whether the Council is prepared to install preventive measures in Prospect Park to better protect it from potential future encampments.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Alok Sharma MP”