Wigan Council recognises and accepts the rights of gypsies and travellers, together with all ethnic groups who have a particular culture, language or values.
We must manage all unauthorised encampments on council land with consideration, recognising the need to balance the rights of the campers with the rights of the community to enjoy open spaces.
Current list of encampments
- Leigh Street play area - Wigan Council are currently taking enforcement action
- Hope Carr Road car park, Leigh - There are currently three caravans and other assorted vehicles on the land. Although Wigan Council are the freehold title holders of the land, our records confirm that the land is subject of a long lease to a company trading as Johnston Developments Limited who are responsible for the removal of the travellers from the land. The company have been contacted, informed of their responsibilities with a request that they commence action to remove the travellers from the land.
What you can do
If you have seen an unauthorised encampment and no details of it are shown in the list above, you can report it to us.
What happens next?
When an unauthorised encampment has been reported to us, we take the following steps:
- Log the report or call
- Visit the reported site to determine the number of caravans involved and plot the exact location
- If the unauthorised encampment is on land that is under the ownership of Wigan Council, we will work within legal time frames to resolve the situation
- In the majority of cases an external agency will be employed to serve an eviction notice. This usually results in the encampment vacating the site within 48 hours of the notice being served.
- Once the site has been vacated, we will ensure that any waste materials are removed. Private landowners are responsible for the removal of waste from land under their control.
Occasionally the Council may have to consider similar repossession proceedings that involve longer time frames, which usually happens when we are required to secure a County Court order.
Encampments on private land
If an unauthorised encampment moves on to private land, we can advise the landowner on what action to take. They can:
- Attempt to agree a leaving date with an encampment representative
- Obtain a Court Order to evict them.
Contact us if you are a landowner and require advice.
Protecting our open spaces
Wherever possible, we do what we can to prevent unauthorised access to public areas and we regularly review security measures on sites that are popular and frequently trespassed.
However, with over 1000 amenity green spaces and parks it isn’t practical or affordable to protect all of our sites 24/7.
It is more cost-effective to manage unauthorised encampments as and when they occur, and to take legal proceedings where necessary.
The role of the police
Most gypsies and travellers are law-abiding citizens. The police will deal with crime committed by gypsies/travellers when there is a complaint and evidence to support it, just as they would when committed by anyone else.
The police can act to require gypsies/travellers to leave when they are satisfied that two or more people are trespassing on the land, and the landowner has taken reasonable steps to make them leave (and they have failed to do so). One of the following also has to apply:
- Damage has been caused to the land or property
- Threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour has been used against the occupier, his family or agent
- The trespassers have six or more vehicles.
Any enforcement action requires considerable resourcing and sufficient police officers available, which may take time to arrange.