Calls for unauthorised traveller sites to be made illegal have been welcomed by local MEP Jonathan Arnott.
A Downing Street petition has been launched this week to make setting up such sites a criminal offence.
“There needs to be a stronger deterrent and making illegal pitches a criminal offence would be just that,” said Mr Arnott, UKIP Euro-MP for the North East.
“Under the existing civil rules residents have to wait several days before action is taken to clear illegal traveller sites. The clear up afterwards has to be paid for by the taxpayer, and frankly enough is enough.
“Making the setting up of an unauthorised traveller sites a criminal offence will swiftly deal with the problem of illegal camps. There will be a strong deterrent and powers for the police to clear the areas immediately. Rather than civil procedures, this will send a strong message that illegal sites are not tolerated and they will be cleared quickly.
“While each local authority has a duty to offer sites, it is wrong that a small minority persist in trespassing and form unauthorized sites. I would hope that a change in the law would protect community lands and see that all obey the law.
“While the police have powers to deal with unauthorised camps they will only use them if the site is deemed “wholly inappropriate”.
The petition, launched by UKIP MEP Tim Aker, can be found at