Tackling unauthorised encampments in west Reading

The issue:

Unauthorised traveller encampments have appeared across the constituency.

Achievements to date:

  • Alok wrote to Reading Borough Council Managing Director in November 2016 to seek urgent answers from Reading Borough Council about its plans to protect Prospect Park and other vulnerable sites in Reading from illegal encampments by travellers. The full letter was published on Alok’s website.
  • Alok held a meeting in December 2016 to allow residents to ask questions to representatives from Reading Borough Council and Thames Valley Police. Local residents requested that Reading Borough Council should put in place preventative measures to secure public spaces and Thames Valley Police and the Council need to act much faster in removing future illegal encampments.
  • Following the public meeting Alok met with Chief Constable Francis Hobgood and Superintendent Stan Gilmour of Thames Valley Police, along with the Police and Crime Commissioner, Anthony Stansfeld to discuss the issue of unauthorised traveller encampments.
  • Alok then wrote to both the police and the Council to ask whether stronger laws are needed to deal with illegal encampments.
  • In March 2017 Reading Borough Council wrote to Alok that they had identified capital funding for additional security measures and carried out works to a number of parks and open spaces within the financial year 2016/17. Works to secure Prospect Park, Coley Recreation Ground, Courage Park and the land in Edenham Crescent have been completed.
  • In April 2018, Alok welcomed the announcement that there will be a consultation on illegal and unauthorised development and encampments. 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.
  • Following an unauthorised encampment of travellers in Theale in May 2018, Alok met with Francis Habgood, the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, to ask that his force is much more consistent in the way it applies the legal powers it already has to deal with illegal encampments as a matter of priority.
  •  In June 2018, Alok launched a petition on tackling illegal encampments calling for a change in the law to make trespass a criminal offence. You can sign the petition online here.

Next steps:

Alok will continue to seek assurance from Reading Borough Council about its plans to maintain to protect vulnerable sites in Reading from illegal encampments by travellers.

Dwyer Road has been identified as a top priority area to be secured, and that a site visit with potential contractors has taken place and quotes for defence work are currently being obtained.

 Alok says:

 “I am pleased to note that in dealing with more recent encampment incidents the police have been making use of their Section 61 powers effectively, however I am aware that some areas in west Reading continue to suffer from traveller incursions, particularly in parts of Southcote. I will of course to continue to liaise with both the police and the Council as and when these encampments occur. I will also continue to press the Council to secure those areas that continue to be affected.”