Landowners in Calderdale are being urged to act swiftly when travellers move on to their property.
Richard Cressall, a commercial litigation solicitor at Yorkshire law firm Gordons, said landowners should take heed from the experience of Woodhouse Grove School, in Bradford, which is taking legal action to remove travellers who have set up a camp within their grounds.
Mr Cressall said: “It is this time of year, as travellers make their way to the annual Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria, when landowners may find themselves in the same situation as Woodhouse Grove School.
“While some might sympathise with the traveller community, and no doubt students are enjoying the new-found unusual diversity of the boarding school community, these encampments do leave land owners in difficulty.”
“Unfortunately for land owners, travellers know the system very well as they come across it every day of their lives. Despite what a traveller may say, most of the time they will not move on until they are forced to do so. Landowners find themselves caught between trying to avoid the costs of court action whilst at the same time wanting to clear the site as soon as possible.”
A number of options are available to landowners if travellers do occupy a site including beginning court proceedings which can often be concluded within two weeks.
“It is important that you move quickly, communicating with the travellers but without relying on what they say,” added Mr Cressall. “Land owners should take legal advice from a team that has experience of dealing with travellers and has the necessary contacts with the courts and the enforcement agents to enable land owners to evict the travellers as quickly and as cheaply as possible.
“Finally, land owners should try and secure their land wherever possible.”
Mr Cressall also reminded landowners of the cheaper but effective option of instructing agents to use “reasonable force” to evict travellers, but noted the risk of liability if agents cross the line.