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Thurrock Council pledge to protect land targeted by travellers

THURROCK Council is planning to “harden” some areas of land it owns which have become regular targets for illegal traveller encampments.

The plan was announced by public protection portfolio holder Cllr Jane Pothecary at Wednesday (28 October) evening’s meeting of Thurrock Council.

She had been asked a question by Cllr Martin Kerin: “After a recent number of illegal traveller encampments across Thurrock, and particularly in our ward of Grays Riverside, can you outline the steps the Council is taking to tackle this problem?”

Cllr Pothecary responded: “This summer has seen a significant increase in the number of illegal encampments the council has had to deal with. This has been the case across Essex and isn’t unique to Thurrock.

“As a fellow ward councillor for Grays Riverside, where a number of these have been, I am as frustrated as anyone that our public amenity space is being used in this way, that’s why money has been dedicated to a target hardening campaign.

“This means making vulnerable pieces of council-owned land resilient against illegal encampments through gating, fencing, bollards and earthworks.

“Parks, playing fields and car parks have been prioritised to make sure residents can carry on using them as they are intended.”

The cost of the proposals is not expected to exceed a few tens of thousands of pounds and include Crown Road, Grays; Darnley Road, Grays; Fondu Club. Purfleet; Princess Margaret Road, East Tilbury park; Thames Road, Grays; Kilverts Field, Grays; Daisy Field, Tilbury; and Anchor Field, Tilbury.

Speaking on Thursday (29 October), Cllr Pothecary said: “I have met with the Essex Countywide Traveller Unit who do a tremendously good job on Thurrock’s behalf, cost-effective, but unfortunately not all that time efficient. It’s not their fault – or our fault – we have to follow what the law sets down and work the system as quickly as we can.

“By spending a few thousand pounds in areas that are regularly targeted we should at least be able to reduce the incidence of these illegal encampments on our land.”

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