REPORTS of illegal gypsy camps have more than doubled during a three-year period.
According to latest figures obtained by the Echo, there were nine illegal gypsy camps reported to Sunderland City Council in 2011.
This is compared to just four in 2009 and five in 2010.
Gabrielle Campbell, relationship support manager with health, housing and adult services, at Sunderland City Council, said: “All sites were cleared on agreement between the council and the travelling groups.
“No legal action was taken by the council for any of the above.
“There could have been other sites on private land to which we were not notified.”
The most affected areas were Seaburn and Grangetown, where a total of four illegal camps were reported in 2011.
Four illegal camps were reported in Seaburn from 2009 to 2011.
Fulwell councillor George Howe said that the issue is a concern for people in the area.
“We’ve had this going on for several years now and there is a great deal of concern,” said Coun Howe.
“The concerns are normally brought to me after the event, when they have already moved on.
“People don’t like camps there,” he added. “They feel like these people have a very cavalier lifestyle.”
The area behind the Pullman Lodge at Seaburn is one of the sites used for the camps.
Coun Howe said: “I believe there are plans to prevent them using the normal space. There are a lot of people that use it.
“They know the law and that they can stay there for three days before being moved on.
“People get worried about the horse and traps going down the seafront and the problems it can cause with pedestrians and traffic.”
Coun Howe said that it could be a lack of understanding of the gypsy way of life that leads to the reports of the illegal camps.
“They don’t understand the gypsy lifestyle and they see them as intruders.”
Other areas with camps were Rainton Bridge, where three camps were reported to the council over the three-year period and Washington, where three were also reported over the same period.
Channel 4 show criticised
THE travelling community claim they are often misrepresented in the media.
Programmes like Big Fat Gypsy Weddings on Channel 4 have been criticised for their portrayal of the community.
The series looked at the world of gypsies and Irish Travellers in Britain today.
The show has been criticised mainly by the Irish Traveller and British gypsy/traveller communities for misrepresenting them.