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MP battles to curb travellers - by PAT FRANKLIN

CAMBERLEY MP Nick Hawkins is trying to add a clause to the Anti-social Behaviour Bill so that travellers can be evicted from land even if they have bought the site.

Mr Hawkins said he had the support of the whole Conservative Opposition for the clause, which would empower people in rural areas suffering from abuse.

Speaking in Parliament, he cited one case in the Surrey Heath area in which travellers had bought a field in a flood plain and then dumped thousands of tons of hardcore on it, tarmacked over it and moved lots of caravans in.

The site was the subject of an injunction, but "gutless" courts had failed to enforce the injunction despite "flagrant breaches".

He said the current law did not give local authorities enough power to deal with this.

Mr Hawkins said that some travellers had become wealthy through the tarmac business because many of them paid no tax and could well afford to buy land.

"If what they do works here, they will try it everywhere and get round the laws against trespassers on land by buying property and despoiling the land by building on flood plains and so on.

"No behaviour is more antisocial than the problems caused by travellers," he said. It is about the worst thing that can happen to any community when travellers descend like a plague of locusts.

"I am talking about an extension of the usual problem of trespassers…If something similar to the new clause is not in the Bill, we shall not be able to deal with the new variant of the problem. If a loophole in the law exists, travellers will get through it."

He said he had received more letters on the problem than about the war in Iraq. "The problem is growing…and it must be dealt with," he said.


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