Travellers at West Park field to be evicted

Knowle Battery playing field where large group of Travellers have set up an illegal encampment
-Credit: (Image: submitted)

Travellers who recently set up an unauthorised encampment at Knowle Battery in West Park have been told they will be legally evicted if they don't move on.

The group of around a dozen caravans and vehicles gained access to the field off Ringmore Way just a couple of days ago and have set up camp. Residents immediately took to social media to complain, with some arguing as to why the council has not taken immediate action.

Some have claimed online that Travellers have cut down trees but were to afraid to identify them to police.


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PlymouthLive has been informed that the council has foregone the usual route of issuing a Notice to Quit and is instead immediately seeking a legal eviction through the courts.

As of 5.15pm today [July 3] a spokesperson for Plymouth City Council said: "We are aware of an unauthorised encampment at Knowle Battery in West Park. We have visited the group and have now started the legal process of eviction."

The information has since been posted on the council's dedicated 'unauthorised encampment' webpage with a reminder that if people have been made aware of any issues regarding such encampments "you can tell us [the council] or the police". The site adds: "If you witness criminal activity, call 999. To report criminal activity that has already happened, but not witnessed, please call 101 or report directly to the police."

What is a Notice to Quit?

If the land is council owned, the council can issue a Notice to Quit. A Notice to Quit gives Travellers 48 hours to vacate the area.

If Travellers fails to do so, the council has authority to escalate proceedings and apply through the court to have the groups removed. If it is not council owned, it will be down to the landowner to take action.

What does the law say?

Travellers have been a part of British culture for hundreds of years. Councils across the UK have a duty of care to Travelling communities and all have designated areas where groups can stay.

The city council has a dedicated transit site called The Ride near Saltram, in Plympton, where Travellers can park caravans and have access to electrical power sockets and water. If an encampment is reported on public land or local parks, the council has to apply to the civil court for an eviction order.

If a camp is set up on private land it is the responsibility of the landowner to apply to the court for an order. In both cases it is down to bailiffs to enforce eviction orders and move Travellers on.

Police officers have no powers to remove Travellers unless they receive reports of "aggravating factors" such as disorder, antisocial behaviour, or crime. Plymouth police used Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 in June 2021 to order Travellers at St Mary's playing field in Plympton to leave the site or see their vehicles seized. It is believed to have been the first time Plymouth police made use of the legal power.

At the time Plymouth City Council was set to go to Plymouth County Court to secure a possession order, but police said they took action after receiving a number of reports from local residents regarding antisocial behaviour and criminal activity.

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