New powers to clamp down on illegal traveller camps are being considered by the government.
A consultation has been launched over whether to strengthen the laws available to councils when travellers park their caravans in places they are not wanted.
Kirklees has suffered numerous incidents of short term encampments as nomadic communities set up in retail parks, business parks, and on council run parks, playing fields and open spaces.
The current laws mean Kirklees Council normally has to apply to county court for an eviction notice, which can take 10 working days.
Travellers, aware of the law, normally move on before the court order is granted, leaving a large amount of waste and disruption in their wake.
The police’s powers are also limited.
They can only evict an encampment if there are six or more caravans or if serious public disorder or criminality is occurring.
The government said the latest national figures showed that about 16% of all caravans – about 3,700 – are on unauthorised sites.
Figures for Kirklees are not currently known but the Examiner has reported on dozens of incidents of illegal camps, including on playing fields in Bradley, Salendine Nook, Mirfield and Holmfirth, in a cul-de-sac by Milnsbridge Aldi, in the car park of NHS headquarters in Bradley, at the Leeds Road Retail Park and at a demolished mill site at Dalton.
Along with reviewing the eviction powers, civil servants will look at why councils aren’t setting up new authorised camps.
Kirklees Council is proposing a new permanent site at Birstall, close to Showcase cinema and the retail park, but that has been objected to by a number of the large firms operating in the area.
The Minister for Housing, Dominic Raab, said he is investigating what can be done to improve the situation for everyone.
Launching a consultation over ‘unauthorised caravan sites’, he said: “Recent debates in Parliament have addressed the topic of unauthorised traveller encampments, and MPs have voiced their constituents’ concerns regarding the impact on both settled and nomadic populations.
“I was deeply troubled by these concerns, particularly by the widespread perception that the rule of law does not apply to those who choose a nomadic lifestyle, and the sense that available enforcement powers do not protect settled communities adequately.
“Unauthorised encampments can cause settled communities significant distress, and they perpetuate a negative image of the travelling community, the vast majority of whom are law-abiding citizens.
“Unauthorised encampments also have a detrimental effect on the life chances of those who live within such encampments, and their children, who may not benefit from the same opportunities as everyone else.”