Travellers who turned up in Gainsborough weren't given any fines by the council

A council leader has explained why travellers who set up camps on a car park repeatedly weren’t given fines.

The groups occupied Bridge Street car park
The groups occupied Bridge Street car park

The groups occupied Gainsborough’s Bridge Street car park twice in two weeks during July.

The camps caused disruption and annoyance to businesses, according to a local councillor, but no penalty notices were given for misuse of the car park.

West Lindsey District Council’s leader says the approach helped to enable to speedy exit.

Coun Owen Bierley said: “If we get the sense that [the encampment] may be a longer stay or will cause significant community harm, then we will start legal proceedings. However in this instance, there was no significant risk to public safety,”

“The car park on Bridge Street is monitored by CCTV and agencies could ensure minimal disruption is caused.

“A formal notice was served within 24 hours of the land being occupied. Provisions were in place to commence formal legal proceedings in the week if necessary.

“Local licensed premises were advised, and there were very minimal complaints to police.”

In answer to a question over how many fines were issued, he explained: “There is no provision for issuing fines for simply occupying land, although a prosecution can be brought if they return within 12 months.

“There was scope for issuing fines for car parking offences. However, this wasn’t deemed to serve the aim of a quick departure, and would have only served to increase tensions.

“There would have been very little scope for recovering fines issued based on the information from the vehicles’ presence.

“It brought a swift resolution to the encampments using the powers available.”

Some local businesses lost up to 80 per cent of their trade on the affected Saturdays, Coun Trevor Young told the meeting.

West Lindsey’s Prosperous Communities Committee recently agreed to explore additional security in council-owned car parks similar to those at the authority’s leisure centre in Gainsborough.

Coun Jeff Summers said that the only surefire solution was a designated traveller site, which the council is understood to have been looking into for several years.