Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: Committee Room 1, Town Hall, Chorley
Contact: Ruth Rimmington Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Declarations of Any Interests
Members are reminded of their responsibility to declare any pecuniary interest in respect of matters contained in this agenda.
If you have a pecuniary interest you must withdraw from the meeting. Normally you should leave the room before the business starts to be discussed. You do, however, have the same right to speak as a member of the public and may remain in the room to enable you to exercise that right and then leave immediately. In either case you must not seek to improperly influence a decision on the matter.
No declarations of interest were received.
Members of the public who have requested the opportunity to ask a question(s) on an item on the agenda will be asked to put their question(s) to the Committee. Each member of the public will be allowed to ask one supplementary question within his/her allocated 3 minutes.
No public questions were received.
Exclusion of the Public and Press
To consider the exclusion of the press and public for the following items of business on the ground that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972.
By Virtue of Paragraph 3: Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information)
Information is not exempt if it is required to be registered under-
The Companies Act 1985
The Friendly Societies Act 1974
The Friendly Societies Act 1992
The Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1965 to 1978
The Building Societies Act 1986 (recorded in the public file of any building society, within the meaning of the Act)
The Charities Act 1993
Information is exempt to the extent that, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
Information is not exempt if it relates to proposed development for which the local planning authority may grant itself planning permission pursuant to Regulation 3 of the Town & Country Planning General Regulations 1992(a).
Decision: To exclude the press and public for the following items of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972.
Approach to Dealing with Unauthorised Encampments on Land not owned by Gypsy Travellers
To receive short presentations on the following:
· Chorley Council’s protocol
· Lancashire Constabulary’s approach
· Update on the current Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA)
The Chair advised that this special meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee was requested by Councillor Marion Lowe and invited her to address the Committee.
Councillor Marion Lowe explained that she felt the current approach to dealing with unauthorised encampments on land not owned by Gypsy Travellers is in need of review. The time and costs required to remove unauthorised emcampments were also a factor, especially for those residents affected. Delays have been experienced in the provision of a transient site.
Chris Sinnott, Director (Early Intervention and Support), explained that the current approach involves different teams across the Council, including Environmental Health, Legal, Communications, Public Protection and Animal Welfare.
Lesley Miller, Regulatory Services Manager, advised that a great deal of interventions are actioned in the hours after notification is received that an unauthorised encampment is on Council land. This includes liaison with the Police, commencement of the legal processes, communication with all interested parties and welfare visits for the Gypsy Travellers and any animals they have. Experience has shown that it is best to positively engage with the Gypsy Travellers. The Council also give advice to private landowners when there are encampments on their property.
Stefanie Leach, Solicitor, outlined the legal processes required, including a Section 77 Direction specifying a time and date that vehicles must be removed by. If this is not successful, the Council applies for a Court Order which enables bailiffs to remove the Gypsy Travellers if they have not left within 24 hours. Following the closure of Chorley Magistrates Court officers will have to travel to Preston Magistrates Court for this.
Chief Inspector Gary Crowe advised that Gypsy Travellers have the right to a family and to a private life under the Human Rights Act. The Police can act under specific circumstances, for example, if a private land owner has taken reasonable steps to request an unauthorised encampment to leave their land, and threats had been made or a crime committed. If an encampment is impeding a business the Police have powers to act. It is difficult when an encampment moves around several times within the same area.
Members queried several points including the issues of Penalty Charge Notices when an encampment is on a car park, the case of the Thwaites brewery in Blackburn, planning for Bank Holidays, the need to communicate with the residents of Chorley, the potential to modify the entrances to Council car parks and when it is appropriate to scan dogs for microchips.
Councillors Gordon and Margaret France, Paul Clark, Yvonne Hargreaves and June Molyneaux left the meeting at 7.15pm and Councillor Alistair Morwood and Kim Snape left the meeting at 7.25pm.
Zoe Whiteside, Planning Policy, Housing and Open Space Strategy Manager, advised that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the 2015 Planning Policy for Traveller Site (PPTS) require a local needs assessment and ‘ensure that their Local Plan includes a fair, realistic and inclusive policies to increase the number of traveller sites in appropriate locations with planning permission, ... view the full minutes text for item 19.OS.18