Gypsy and traveller sites

Swindon Borough Council manages authorised and unauthorised occupation of council-owned sites and land by gypsies and travellers.

Chiseldon Firs transit site

The Chiseldon Firs transit site is located on the A346 between Swindon and Marlborough, three miles south of junction 15 of the M4. The site can accommodate between 12 and 20 caravans depending on the size of each unit and the number of accompanying vehicles.

The site is owned, managed and maintained by the Council and applications to use the facility should be made to the Council's Traveller Liaison Office.

Prior to admission all applicants are required to provide verifiable identification and a refundable cash deposit or other security in order to ensure fair compliance with the Site Licence and Rules.

Any breach of the Licence and/or Rules may result in the forfeiture of all or part of the deposit or security.

Traveller encampments on private land

In the event of an encampment on your land, the responsibility for action lies with you as the landowner. In the absence of aggravating factors, the police have no powers to prevent people from trespassing on private land - this is a civil offence.

In many cases, it is possible for landowners to speak directly with the Travellers and negotiate a common agreement as to how long the group might stay. Where this is not possible, a solicitor will be able to advise you on the legal procedure for recovery of land through the County Court, under part 55 of the Civil Procedure Rules.

When the encampment has moved on, it is the Landowner's responsibility to clear any rubbish or waste from the site.

Criminal Damage

If damage is caused or people have been threatened, this is a police matter:

  • If it is an emergency, dial 999
  • In all other cases, contact the Wiltshire Police on 101

Traveller encampments on public land

Where a traveller encampment is reported on Council land (including parts of the highway), we aim to visit the site within the first full working day.

During this visit, a council officer will attempt to identify the group and establish its purpose and intentions. In complying with the legal obligations incumbent on all local authorities, the officer will also gather information in regard to the health, education and welfare of the group.

You can report and encampment on public land using the online form below.

Report a gypsy and traveller encampment

Legal powers

Contact will be made with the local police so that the senior police officer can make an informed decision as to whether criminal law powers should be invoked with regard to the circumstances of this particular group.

If the decision of the police is not to exercise their powers immediately and instead leave the landowner (private or public) to take legal action, the police will record this fact and keep their decision under constant review.

The council officer then has a duty to consider all the relevant evidence he/she has gathered, the police advice received and the results of the information that was passed to the health, welfare and education agencies.

Finding a resolution

If the police decline to act immediately to end the encampment, the Council may agree a leaving date with the group, which includes a period of ‘rest’ in accordance with government guidelines. On occasion, the group may not be moved straight away due to advice received from the health, welfare or education agencies.

We offer groups short-term relocation to the Gypsy and Traveller transit site at Chiseldon Firs.

Civil action

The encampment is under constant review by representatives of all agencies and as a result, the council may have to take legal action (civil or criminal) to obtain possession of their land - a sometimes lengthy and costly process.

The timescale in achieving a successful resolution of an encampment will be as varied as the make-up of the numerous groups that seasonally pass through our area. The final route taken to resolve an encampment may be just as diverse. All depends on the particular circumstances and there is no single answer.

Environmental assessment

When the group finally move on from the Council land, a council officer will attend the venue and assess if there has been any environmental impact on the location and if any action appears necessary will report his/her findings to the relevant services.

Further information

If you're a Gypsy or Traveller and are seeking local advice on accommodation or site services, or if you're in doubt on any matter relating to Gypsies, Travellers and unauthorised encampments, please contact:

Housing Options
Community Safety Team
Civic Offices
Euclid Street

Telephone: 01793 445503

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