On Friday 30th September the Barking and Dagenham Chamber of Commerce organised a meeting of key stakeholders across multiple industries and the three boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Havering, and Redbridge. The meeting was called as an urgent response to the detrimental effect unlawful encampments are having on local businesses, future investment opportunities, and local services, including both council and emergency.
Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham sent his team to the meeting, and Mike Gapes MP for Ilford South was also in attendance. The meeting outlined plans to set up a cross border, multi-agency, tri borough task force with the means and authority to tackle the issue of fly-tipping and criminal damage, often on an industrial scale.
It was agreed that the best way to influence legislation was to lobby both within City Hall and the House of Commons. Following the meeting Jon Cruddas MP is seeking further parliamentary support in order to hold an adjournment debate in the house, Jon has also submitted a question to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan through our local City and East Assembly Member Unmesh Desai. The question seen below in full has been accepted as a written question into Mayor's Question Time, which will take place on Wednesday 19th October – a response to written questions is anticipated to take up to one week.
Jon Commented: "it is important that we recognise that it is not the travelling community as a whole, but a criminal element operating within. This criminal element is costing local businesses and authorities upward of £80,000 per incident in both preventative security, and resultant clearance. At a time when public services are being stretched very thin we need measures in place to ensure that unnecessary expenditure such as this is prevented."
Written question submitted by Unmesh Desai AM to the Mayor of London on 19.10.2016:
"Recently the Barking and Dagenham Chamber of Commerce met with the local business community, Members of Parliament Jon Cruddas for Dagenham and Rainham, and Mike Gapes for Ilford South, and representatives from the Metropolitan Police and councils covering the boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, and Havering. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss a cross border, tri-borough approach to the growing issue of unlawful encampments in the respective areas.
"The meeting was formulated around creating a multi-agency cross border team with the authority, working with police elements to move members of the travelling community on before any damage can be extended to private, public or commercial land through prolific fly tipping.
"It is important to note that the issue is not one with the travelling community, but with a criminal element operating within the traveller community. The unlawful encampments have collectively resulted in millions of pounds being expended by the council and the business community, both through clearing the resultant fly-tipped rubbish, and through preventative security provision.
"It has been highlighted by the police that this is not the typical behaviour of travelling communities, and is by association causing a large amount of xenophobia towards this minority. That is why it is important that we commit to a London-wide solution to crack down on the individuals that are operating within the travelling community for profit through illegal mass fly-tipping.
"The criminal element are profiteering to the detriment of already strained local authorities which are having to foot the bill for clearance, and the redirection of services which is by default having a negative impact on council's ability to deliver other vital services to residents.
"This is not exclusive to East London, this is a growing issue. Will the Mayor of London commit to working with local authorities, and the Metropolitan Police to deliver a long term strategy to deter unlawful encampments which does not involve simply moving criminal activity from borough to borough?"
The answer will be published online HERE