Following a number of illegal traveller encampments in Burnham-on-Sea over the past week, James Heappey MP has called for urgent action to tackle the issue.
Burnham-on-Sea MP James Heappey said: “The number and frequency of illegal encampments in the Pier Street car park is ridiculous. Sedgemoor District Council and the police are doing all they legally can to move the travellers on but it has become a game of cat and mouse that is hoovering up taxpayers’ cash, infuriating local residents and losing business in the town.
“Changing the law and criminalising these encampments is the solution but laws cannot be changed overnight and action is needed immediately. We cannot just put height barriers on the car park because we want coaches and tourists with motorhomes to be able to park. But we can change the car park from a pay and display to one with barrier controlled entry and exit.
“Tourists and shoppers would pay at a pay station before returning to their vehicles and I am sure there’s some system we could devise through the TIC or another nearby business where coach drivers could get their ticket validated and thus free parking for coaches is maintained. I hope Sedgemoor District Council will look at this proposal urgently. The expense of installing it is very likely to be offset by the endless costs incurred by the council in legal fees and cleaning up after the travellers when they are gone, not to mention the value of the business being lost in our town centre.”