Elmbridge taking steps to prevent unauthorised encampments

Residents will be aware that Elmbridge has been suffering from a sustained spell of unauthorised encampments in recent weeks. The Conservative administration is working with contractors and Surrey Police to tackle issues as they arise and put preventative measures in place to strengthen the protection of our open spaces and car parks.

The following is a list of steps we are taking.

1) Preventative measures - we have strengthened the protection of our open spaces and car parks. Since 2014 we have invested over £85,000 to protect these spaces, and will continue to invest in this area with ditches, height barriers, wooden and metal posts and in some more rural areas additional planting. The initial phase of security works were targeted on the North Eastern corner of the Borough where the majority of the initial encampments had taken place. Further works to other areas will also be taken.

2) Further review - due to the ongoing nature of the encampments this summer, officers will shortly be revisiting all of the security measures with support from Surrey Polices Design out Crime Officer (DOCO) and a further capital bid will be made subject to the outcome of the review. We will especially review any of the newer areas that have not previously required additional security measures.

3) Strengthening gates\locks - in some cases officers have been made aware where padlocks have been tampered with. In these cases (Coronation Rec being an example) an additional metal plate has been welded to the padlock shield to prevent tools being able to access the padlock where these have on occasions been cut. In the case of Coronation rec, this prevented an encampment who turned up shortly after the welding job had been completed. This is now being installed on all locking gates across the Borough.

4) Security checks - officers, Councillors, contractors and members of the public have been vigilant and where weaknesses appear in parks and open spaces these have been reported and dealt with swiftly. This is even more important in more rural locations where wooden bollards are made of wood and occasionally get knocked by large vehicles. The Green Spaces Team and Burleys are especially vigilant on their site inspections to ensure any weaknesses are fixed as soon as possible. This for example was where the Coronation Rec padlock issue was identified.

5) Following an encampment - where recent encampments have taken place, additional security measures have been introduced where possible. For example at Lower Green a new height barrier has been installed and further metal posts are being fabricated. A new height barrier at Walton Car Park is also on order. Each site that has had an encampment, measures are reviewed and strengthened as needed. Sites that have been cleared more recently are currently being reviewed and will also be included under the review.