Calls to tackle illegal encampments, rubbish dumping and illegally parked lorries in Washington

Calls have been made to do more to tackle the issue of illegal encampments in parts of Sunderland, with councillors stating “residents deserve better”.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 6:24 pm
Top: Rickleton Park, bottom left Car Park off Shepherd Way and bottom right, rubbish dumped near James Steel Park in Washington.

Councillors at the latest Washington Area Committee raised numerous concerns over encampments being set up in the region, along with sites also being used to dump rubbish, illegally park lorries and for anti-social behaviour.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Tony Taylor, Washington East representative, said more needs to be done to address the issue, citing numerous disturbances it causes to residents.

He said: “In most instances it’s been established that these perpetrators, they live local to the area, these are people who live local in houses.

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Rubbish dumped near James Steel Park in Washington.

“When you do get an illegal encampment it means that our residents can’t use those parks for their intended use.

“It’s got to a point now where residents of Washington certainly feel as though it’s been ignored, honestly, Washington deserves better.”

He noted if the area has “genuine travellers” the council owes them a duty of care, but in many instances of encampments, this is not the case.

Cllr Linda Williams, Washington Central representative, echoed calls for a refresh of their encampment policy.

She said: “It’s a really delicate area to try and get some success with.

“Our priority has to be that our land is available for everyone to use in a sensible way.”

Cllr Jill Fletcher, Washington North representative, added this has been a topic of conversation since she came on the council in 2006 and they are “still in the same position” in 2021.

Cllr Dianne Snowdon, Washington Central representative, added the issues go beyond illegal encampments.

She said: “It’s a lot more than encampment safety measures, it is about the illegal lorries, it is about the fly-tipping.”

It came as at the meeting councillors approved aligning a further £58,000 to deliver encampment safety measures in Washington, following on from a previous £62,000 approved by the committee last year.

The project aims to limit access to various sites from certain locations and for certain vehicles, such as James Steel Car Parks, Rickleton Park, Viewpoint Car Park, and Shepherd Way and Staithes Road Car Parks.

An equality impact assessment will also be carried out on the issue, while approved measures will be subject to consultation and assessment with residents.

Jon Ritchie, council executive director of corporate services, said the impact assessment should be done in the coming weeks, and the issues will be followed up with relevant officers.

He said: “It’s that balance between the wishes of the area committee representing the residents, but to do so in a way that can be sustained.

“That needs to be done within service specifications and legally.”

Several councillors on the Washington Area Committee have said CCTV cameras should be used to tackle the “awful” issue in the area, and asked for an update on them being provided.

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