A woman from Dunstable has called for Central Bedfordshire Council to do more to stop illegal encampments in the area.
The woman, who does not wish to be named, saw the mess left behind by the travellers this morning on land near the M1’s Junction 11a.
She claims they had been moved on, but only to the other side of the road. She said: “The travellers are back on the land near Junction 11A, the mess they have left behind is disgusting. I am concerned that it is going to be an epidemic on that area of land, like it was last year.
“Central Bedfordshire Council paid £250,000 cleaning up mess left behind by travellers last year, that is tax payers money.
“That money could be better used, it could be used to fund more officers on the streets, which is desperately needed.
“The council need to do more, they need to stop them accessing the land at all, or move them on quicker. The field is covered with rubbish, I have seen a rat and there is faeces left behind, it is disgusting. This is completely unacceptable, please could they get this area cleaned up, secured properly and any other areas that are vulnerable to entry by travellers at junction 11a and remove these illegal travellers from private land from their new site literally opposite.”
Central Bedfordshire Council pointed out that of the £250,000 used to clean up mess left behind by travellers, over £200,000 of the clear-up costs was spent by Highways England at Junction 12 of the M1.
A spokesperson said: “The travellers were evicted from private land earlier today and are now on our land. They are being served a legal notice by us today (Tuesday).
“If they don’t leave the land then they will be evicted by the Police tomorrow morning (Wednesday).
“We have to work within the current legal processes for evicting unauthorised encampments.
“We secured an injunction last year for some specific named travellers. But we’d like to see current legislation changed to strengthen our powers for dealing with all unauthorised encampments. So we have been working with local MPs to push for changes in the national legislation. As a result, a second reading of a Private Members Bill is due to be heard in parliament later this month.”
A complaint about the mess has also been made by the resident to Andrew Selous MP for South West Bedfordshire.
He said: “I am really fed up that this is happening again. The government are moving in the right direction in that they have responded to a consultation on this issue.
“I am frustrated that we do not have things in place now to deal with it. I know that Central Bedfordshire Council spent a lot of money putting things in place to stop travellers accessing land, particularly around Junction 11a.
“There is movement and the government is doing more, and they are looking at police powers to remove trespassers.
“I welcome the direction but I share my constituents frustration that it is not already in place.
“We have put up with too much for too long and I am very frustrated that we do not have more powers.
“I raise this issue regularly but it is beyond a joke that it is still happening in this area.
“I expect everyone in our area to obey the law and if they do not then they should be punished, that is what angers people, these people do not get punished for leaving the mess behind, but we would get punished for fly-tipping.”