Tattenhoe Ward Councillors Shazna Muzammil and Manish Verma have launched a campaign calling for Milton Keynes City Council (MKCC) to take more action against unauthorised encampments.
The petition includes urging MKCC to work more closely with Thames Valley Police, by finally signing the Thames Valley and Local Authority Joint Protocol for dealing with Unauthorised Encampments, of which MKCC are one of only three Councils in the Thames Valley area yet to sign.
Cllrs Muzammil and Verma today met with Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Barber, at a site of a recent unauthorised encampment in Tattenhoe Ward, to share their residents’ concerns and discuss how Ward Councillors, MKCC and Thames Valley Police can work together to prevent and minimise the impact of unauthorised encampments.
Cllr Verma said “It was great to have the PCC visit Tattenhoe to see the impact of the recent encampments on our residents and hear from Matthew what TVP are doing to tackle this issue. We are asking that MKCC play their part and take more substantial action. We understand that these situations can be complex but signing up to the Joint Protocol, to enable these encampments to be managed in the most effective manner possible, is an obvious and major step. As a Council we must start taking swifter action and seek more sustainable solutions, such as more dedicated alternate sites for the traveller community.”
PCC Matthew Barber added: “I understand the impact that encampments such as this can have on residents. I have ensured that Thames Valley Police have changed their processes in light of new legislation to improve the response, but local authorities, such as Milton Keynes City Council, still have a large role to play. I hope MKCC will join other councils in signing the joint protocol with the police to ensure close working to tackle this problem, as well as fulfilling their statutory obligation of providing alternative sites.”
Councillors Verma and Muzammil welcome the promise of a public meeting for residents to raise their concerns on these issues.
Cllr Muzammil said “It is great to hear the Labour councillor for Tattenhoe Ward and Council Leader are planning a public meeting for our residents. We urge them to invite all local councillors, our MP, Iain Stewart, and relevant bodies to ensure we can all work together on an issue that means a great deal to our residents.
Cllr Muzammil added “I, alongside Cllr Verma, want to thank our residents for continuously engaging with us and reporting these issues. We hope that our petition and campaign will continue to push for better efforts by MKCC, more co-operation with Thames Valley Police and ultimately, a safer environment for our community, who have had to deal with 18 instances of unauthorised encampments this year alone.”
Iain Stewart MP stated: “Last year the Government legislated to increase the powers available to tackle the problems that some unauthorised encampments can cause to local communities. The 2022 Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Act creates a new criminal offence of residing with a vehicle on land without permission. I want to see Milton Keynes City Council and the Police work effectively together to use the powers at their disposal.”
Residents can sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/End_Unauthorised_Encampments