Travellers turn up at council

Travellers site at County Hall, Morpeth.'REF 2708147463
Travellers site at County Hall, Morpeth.'REF 2708147463

Travellers have set up camp outside the county council’s headquarters.

Three caravans arrived at County Hall in Loansdean, Morpeth, yesterday morning, causing a stir among local residents.

Northumberland County Council’s Gypsy and Traveller Liaison Officer visited the site.

A council spokeswoman said: “The Traveller Liaison Officer is aware of the situation and is liaising with the police to see what can be done. We are awaiting their response as to what action is available.

“The officer is also liaising with the NHS to look to the travellers’ welfare needs.”

The council provides two permanent sites for the Gypsy and Traveller community at Hartford Bridge, near Bedlington, and Lyneburn Cottages in Lynemouth.

In its protocol for managing unauthorised encampments it states that the authority will tolerate for an agreed period unauthorised camping where there are no problems and no nuisance is being caused. Negotiations should take place with the Travellers to agree a departure date, after which eviction may result.

The authority will also collect basic information about the Travellers, and health, education and welfare assessments will be carried out by relevant professionals.

County councillor for the area Andrew Tebbutt said: “We are doing everything we can within the law to move the Travellers on as quickly as possible. They know the law and we have to make sure that we do things by the book otherwise the council could find itself in difficulty.

“We are working closely with the police, who will be making an increased presence over the next 24 hours or so. We are also following up some medical issues to make sure that what they are telling us is true.

“The message to residents is that they shouldn’t approach the Travellers, just leave them alone.”

A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said: “We are aware of the situation and are making inquiries.”