Following news this morning of the illegal incursion of caravans into Victoria Park in Newbury, Richard said:
‘I am appalled at the very large traveller incursion into Victoria Park. Let’s be clear, this is criminality. They forced their way on to the Park and now some of the travellers have been involved in criminal damage to this much-loved open space. Victoria Park is at the heart of Newbury and I hope that criminal charges will be brought for the damage done.
‘I am pleased that Newbury Town Council, West Berkshire Council and the Police are working together to bring this to an end as soon as possible. I am also pleased that the Government has said they wish to amend the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act so that travellers cannot return to a site they have been removed from, for a year rather than just three months, and that the threshold for action against illegal encampments will be lowered. It is also good to see that the Home Office is looking at the so-called Irish option which will make illegal encampments a criminal offence rather than a civil one.
‘Last year saw many West Berkshire residents severely affected by traveller incursions on to public land. I am pleased that much has been done to deny access and bring criminal charges when damage is done but it’s clear that we have to do more to prevent our valued public spaces being damaged in this way.’