04:00PM, Thursday 26 January 2017
The cost of removing travellers from an unauthorised site looks set to leave the Royal Borough with a final bill of more than £270,000.
The group, which moved onto the site in Shurlock Road, near Shurlock Row, in 2009, has now been given a final chance to leave voluntarily before direct legal action is taken to force them off the land.
The decision was made at a meeting of the cabinet prioritisation sub committee on Wednesday, January 18, although a date for notice to be served has not yet been agreed.
The council’s costs of dealing with the group stands at £160,000 so far, with legal and clean-up costs expected to push this up by as much as £116,000 more.
Cllr Derek Wilson, cabinet member for planning, said: “The law-abiding residents of Waltham St Lawrence have lived alongside the illegal settlement for more than seven years and we are determined that this situation will end.”
Councillors agreed to give the travellers 14 days’ notice before direct legal action is taken.
Concerns were raised at the meeting about the education of children living on the site, with a feeling that the families should be given sufficient time to make necessary arrangements.
Officers, who said there were four youngsters from the group currently at schools in the Royal Borough, had advised a minimum of 48 hours.
The group moved to the site in December 2009, installing ‘caravans, vehicles, hardstanding and machinery’ without planning permission.
An injunction was later served to limit the number of caravans to 10, followed by an enforcement notice for the removal of any unauthorised buildings, although the compliance period for this was extended to February 2013 after a failed appeal.
The ensuing legal battle went through the High Court and Court of Appeal before an application to appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court.
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