Many residents have contacted me with concerns about the travellers that have moved into the old Evans Auto site in North Cheam.
The site is currently owned by Aldi, not Sutton Council, and was locked. The travellers broke the lock to gain entry and the owners reported the trespass to the police. The police turned up to evict them, however, they claimed squatters rights and the owners have had to go to the High Court to get an eviction order.
The Court has confirmed that:
a) The claim should be issued today (27/04); and
b) The possession hearing will be listed for 10 May.
Once Aldi has obtained the order, they will need to transfer it up to the High Court (so that it can be enforced by Constant & Co). It is expected they will obtain possession during the week commencing 14 May.
Whilst they may be reticent to do so due to the cost, the Police do have powers under section 61(1) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to direct the trespassers to leave land if any of the following apply:
a) The trespassers have caused damage to the land or property on the land;
b) The trespassers have used threatening, abusing or insulting words or behaviour to the occupier (or the occupier’s family, employees or agents); or
c) There are six or more vehicles on land.
The Police also have powers to direct trespassers to leave in certain situations where there is a suitable caravan site in the local authority area.
They are currently monitoring the site for any evidence of clear law breaking.
I share residents concerns about how long this will take, so I have written to the Borough Commander at Sutton Police to investigate further with a view to potentially removing them earlier, as feedback from residents suggests that some or all of the above has happened.
I will be sure to keep residents updated and encourage them to report any criminal activity to the police on 999 in an emergency or 101 if the need is less urgent.