Police handling of travellers is criticised

Travellers parked on the land known as The Orchard off Hesketh Meadow Lane in Lowton
Travellers parked on the land known as The Orchard off Hesketh Meadow Lane in Lowton

Councillors have criticised Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Tony Lloyd after he turned down a meeting to discuss how police have handled recent issues with travellers.

The Lowton East ward representatives asked Mr Lloyd to meet to discuss concerns after travellers parked on The Rose Centre’s car park earlier this year.

Councillors criticised GMP after the travellers, who were not moved on by the police, embarked on a wrecking spree of criminal damage in the venue and around the grounds.

Elected representatives in Lowton have made it clear they are not happy with how the situation was handled and want the police to use their powers to move travellers on more frequently.

However, Mr Lloyd’s office said the response was satisfactory and the matter was being dealt with at a local level.

Coun James Grundy said: “Although individual officers do a very good job we weren’t happy with the overall police response to The Rose Centre incident.

“We had two weeks of disturbance culminating in an incident of the same level of seriousness as a riot.

“Had the police used their powers under section 61 of the Public Order Act this would not have happened and it is important we understand the threshold at which this comes into play.”

Deputy PCC Jim Battle said: “We have been reassured that this is being dealt with by Wigan Council and GMP locally.

“Representatives from Wigan Council and GMP have already met with local councillors to discuss their concerns, and they continue to liaise with them.

“The PCC will continue to have an overview of the issue but, at this stage, doesn’t believe an additional meeting is needed.”

Travellers last week camped on a children’s play area onWinton Road in Lowton but were served with notice to leave the site by yesterday evening or face legal action by the council.