(i) That further consideration by Officers from Environmental Services, Community, Culture and Leisure and Transportation Services, be undertaken with regard to the installation of a height restrictive entrance barrier at Kingland Road Car Park, to be funded from existing resources.
(ii) Copse Close, at Poole Park, be target-hardened to prevent further unauthorised encampments, to be funded from existing resources.
(iii) That the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder, be requested to write to the Chief Constable of Dorset Police with regards unauthorised encampments, to:
Propose criteria where Police should consider the use of Section 61 Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994 to immediately remove an encampment (e.g. land intended for use by children, leisure centre car parks, high profile beach car parks)
Seek confirmation that Police will act upon allegations of violence, criminal damage, and behaviour causing distress and negative impact on the local community
Clarify the Police response where evidence is presented of anti-social behaviour and criminal activity
(iv) That a feasibility study be conducted into upgrading Sandbanks Beach Car Park entrance gates and installing CCTV, to provide additional security and deterrence against unauthorised encampments. Beach Road Car Park also to be included in the investigation.
(v) That Cabinet endorse the Place Overview and Scrutiny Committees rejection of further investigation into the provision of a temporary transit facility at lower profile sites across the Borough on a rotation basis.
FOR - Unanimous
Reason for the Decision
To consider the recommendations of the Portfolio Holder, encompassing those of the Gypsy and Traveller Working Party.
Part of the Published Forward Plan No
Key Decision Yes
Portfolio Areas Environment and Open Spaces, Transportation
In accordance with Section 100(B)4 of the Local Government Act 1072, the Chairman allowed consideration of this Item of business as a decision was required before the next scheduled Meeting of Cabinet.
Councillor Rampton, the Portfolio Holder, addressed Cabinet, thanking them for allowing consideration of his Report, which he felt took into account the Overview and Scrutiny recommendations. He explained that a number of the recommendations from the Working Party could be instigated by the Officers using their delegated authority. The Place Overview and Scrutiny Committee had noted that the policy of providing portable toilets and skips had reduced costs when compared to the costs of site cleansing, following departure of an unauthorised encampment. This rationale was to be explained on the Borough of Poole website. The website was also to be updated to state the actions residents should take when they witness anti-social behaviour associated with an unauthorised encampment.
The effectiveness of current communication channels between the Borough of Poole Regulatory Services and the Police were to be monitored, including the process of updating relevant parties. It was noted that 101 telephone number failed to provide an effective channel for communications between the Council and Police officers and, since 9 August 2017, direct contact numbers for Police Commanders had been obtained. Officers were to continue to urge the Police to maintain effective communication channels.
The Portfolio Holder advised that a review of legal procedures was required in view of the new shared Legal Service arrangements between the Councils of Bournemouth and Poole. Currently Bournemouth and Poole used a different legal approach for unauthorised encampments to reach the same objective and it was recognised that there may be scope to rationalise such procedures.
There was also a particular legal process requirement in Poole that, for operational reasons, could seriously undermine future undertakings to remove unauthorised encampments with this requirement not applying in Bournemouth and this was to be resolved as a matter of urgency.
Councillor Rampton explained the reasons for the amendments to the Decisions Required at Section 2 of his Report as follows: He felt that the recommendation from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee requesting the installation of a height restrictive barrier at Kingland Road Car Park required further investigation and Moved and Amendment to this effect, with which Cabinet concurred, as detailed at (i) in the Decisions Taken Section.
With regard to recommendation (iii) of the Decisions Required detailed in the Report, the Portfolio Holder requested that the Chief Executive should write to the Chief Constable in consultation with the Portfolio Holder. Again, Cabinet concurred with the Amendment as detailed in (iii) of the Decisions Taken.
The issue of inconsistency of the Police response and use of enforcement powers was also addressed by the Portfolio Holder. Councillor Rampton explained that, as a Local Authority, the Council had no powers with regard to Gypsies and Travellers, just duties; the Police had no duties, but under legislation had powers to act. He then explained that he wished to work with the Chief Executive to formulate a letter to be sent to the Chief Constable of Dorset Police, encompassing the bullet points as detailed in the Decisions Taken Section. Councillor Rampton explained that he had written to the Minister, querying when the Police would act using Section 61 powers as this was not clear and there appeared to be some inconsistency, the response had been shared with the Working Party.
Councillor Rampton also stated that he had asked Government for a change in legislation and had written to the Minister asking for a transit site to be allowed to be provided outside of the Local Authority Area (Poole) but still in the Police Force area (Dorset) so that Police could move any Gypsy and Traveller encampments to the Site at Piddle Hinton.
The Leader explained that she had met with residents and discussed issues relating to Gypsy and Traveller incursions and it was agreed that residents, the Council, the Poole and Dorset MPs all needed to work together to achieve the best outcome for all on this issue.
Cabinet thanked Councillor Rampton for his Report, and noted that the recommendations were within the context of a wider strategy that acknowledged that Poole would continue to be a destination for Gypsies and Travellers, but aimed to manage unauthorised encampments in a way that minimise any adverse effects on settled communities, whilst maintaining the legal rights afforded to those who pursued a nomadic lifestyle.