The number of travellers’ caravans camping on borough land has risen by more than a third in the past two years.
Figures released by the Government reveal that in July 2017, there were 82 travellers’ caravans on sites across Wigan and Leigh, 10 of which were classed as “not tolerated”. In January 2015 there were only 60 caravans in the borough.
The data, released this month, splits caravan usage between “tolerated” sites which means the council has decided not to seek the removal of the encampment or that the camp has been or is likely to be allowed indefinitely and “not tolerated” sites, which means either a planning enforcement notice has been served, an inquiry is pending or an injunction has been sought.
In July 2017, for the first time in at least two and a half years, five unauthorised caravans set up camp on land owned by travellers and another five pitched up without permission on land not owned by travellers.
Despite the increase in visiting or permanent travellers, the Bickershaw Lane caravan park remains the only site in the borough for travellers or travelling showpeople provided by the local authority.
The site, initially established in 1984, received its last expansion in 2012 following a £146,000 grant.
Paul Barton, Wigan Council’s assistant director for environmental services, said: “We have dedicated officers who work extremely hard to ensure that council land isn’t used for unauthorised encampments.
“If a council owned piece of land is used in this way we have an agreed policy and procedure we follow, this helps responding officers by having a clear and consistent approach which also accounts for all relevant legislation.
“The policy also helps when the land is not owned by the council so that we are able to notify the relevant land owner and support them.”