THE chairman of a group looking into how Gypsy and Traveller accommodation is assessed says an illegal encampment must have “broken the law” by driving over pavements as they “didn’t drop out of the sky”.
Motor homes and tents pitched up near the Eisteddfod stones on Friday and Saturday July 15/16, driving over pavements to get to the the protected wildflower meadow off Rhyl’s East Parade.
Cllr Barry Mellor (Rhyl East ward) said council officers and police were “too slow” to remove them, thinking they were opportunistic holidaymakers because they had pitched up tents on the grassed area.
He said: “They couldn’t have got there any way else – they didn’t drop out of the sky.
“They’ve driven over the pavements, they broke the law but the police don’t see it that way.”
He was speaking after presenting the plan for how Gypsy and Traveller accommodation assessments are conducted by the county to Denbighshire council’s communities scrutiny committee on Monday.
Addressing members, Cllr Mellor said: “Illegal encampments do get set up – we are making notes of these and asking questions.
“I just want to put you in the picture, over the last week we have had a terrible situation with an illegal camp.
“Denbighshire didn’t move very quickly. They thought they were only people camping because not only were there mobile homes, there were tents.
“So these people have now started to change tack and I think it’s something we need to be wary of.
“They rode over the pavements to get to this land and the police moved very slowly.”
He said an emergency meeting with council officers and North Wales Police left him “disgusted” after he claimed officers said they would have to catch illegal campers in the act of driving over the pavements to be able to move them on.
Cllr Mellor heads up the task and finish group into updating the way the Gypsy and Traveller accommodation assessment is carried out, which the council is required to do by law.
Fellow Rhyl councillor Brian Blakeley (Rhyl South East ward) had earlier said councillors would be aware of “some of the problems we’ve had down in Rhyl” with illegal encampments at the start of the summer.
He added: “Some of them have been quite nasty unfortunately.
“Hopefully the task and finish group will do the job and we can put the problem to sleep in the very near future.”
Responding to the incursion on the Rhyl Forum Facebook page one commenter claimed she had been sworn by the driver of one of the vehicles after it drove over the pavement to exit the area.
Another alleged rubbish from the illegal camp was being thrown over the sea wall but several people came to their defence, saying they were “only camping” and not doing any harm.
Councillors heard there were advanced plans to appoint a dedicated officer to deal with illegal Traveller encampments.