Glastonbury Unauthorised Encampments

A joint statement on behalf of the Glastonbury Unauthorised Encampments Multi-Agency Group

We’d like to thank the people of Glastonbury for their continuing patience and want to reassure them we are working together to find a long-term solution to the issues of unauthorised encampments in the town.

A Multi-Agency Group (MAG) consisting of Avon and Somerset Police, Somerset County Council, Glastonbury Town Council and Mendip District Council is now in place. Together we are focused on identifying ways to limit these recurring unauthorised encampments and explore a number of potential options for long-term solutions.

A number of sub-groups have been formed as part of the MAG focusing on specific areas such as land and enforcement. The MAG will work closely with the community to consider next steps and will engage and communicate progress as we move forward.

On Tuesday 4th May, we notified those staying in unauthorised encampments that all current free sanitation and facilities on site will be removed from the 17th May 2021. They also received warning that civil enforcement activity could start from 17th May. We now confirm the civil enforcement process has started.

Throughout the pandemic, Local Authorities were instructed by Government to take steps to prevent the spread of Coronavirus within communities, and so discourage gypsy and traveller groups from moving from area to area. Local provision of sanitation, water, bins, refuse collections, and the issuing of health advice were therefore put in place. In line with the national roadmap and the lifting of national restrictions, these services will now be removed.

Although we hope this will be a quick process and those living on unauthorised encampments will abide by the law and leave sites from this date, we would like to advise residents of the next steps we’ll take if this does not occur.

If unauthorised encampments remain after 17th May, it’s imperative we follow all correct and legal processes as we enforce. Glastonbury residents have shown tolerance and patience and will understand we have a duty of care for those living on unauthorised encampments, and the need to get this right.

Firstly, welfare checks will occur at each site to identify any needs – which the Local Authority then must consider. Those deemed able to move (ie those with no welfare needs) but choose to remain, will be served with the relevant Notices. Failure to comply with those Notices may lead to court hearings where the Council can apply for a Court Order to remove remaining vehicles. Once the Court Orders have been obtained, bailiffs can be instructed to attend and clear sites. This process can take time as support is put in place to those with genuine welfare concerns.

Every effort will be taken to complete this as quickly as possible, but always within the confines of the law, the powers in our gift, and taking into account the welfare needs of those living in unauthorised encampments.

Again, thank you for your patience, your tolerance and your understanding – qualities which are at the heart of what makes Glastonbury such a great place to live and work.

If you have any further questions regarding Glastonbury unauthorised encampments or the MAG, please contact glastonburyencampments@somerset.gov.uk or phone 0300 123 2224.