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Hard-line mayor targets travellers

Local authorities told to ‘rebel’ and take tough action against caravan camps that were disrupting local communities

MAYORS across France have been called on to “rebel” against groups of travelling people who disrupt local communities by camping on any unused ground.

Christrian Estrosi, mayor of Nice, said they should copy his hard-line example and threaten them with 24-hour surveillance and the confiscation of their vehicles for any breach of the law.

Speaking on Europe 1, he said travelling people cost communities dear when they took over ground illegally and he criticised Interior Minister Manuel Valls for his circular to prefects last year which “complicated” the job of getting rid of travellers’ camps by setting out a strict procedure.

He said that if travellers took over ground that was not theirs they were breaking the law and should face the force of the law. “If you break the law to gain entry you are a delinquent,” he said, and told mayors, “the worst thing is to give up. I give up on nothing.”

He spoke of a recent confrontation with a travelling group who had taken over a rugby pitch at Nice and said he had told them he would put them under constant surveillance, would note all the vehicle registrations and, as they had broken the law to get on to the pitch, he would ask for the confiscation of the vehicles to pay a €500,000 compensation bill.

He said the vehicles were “these beautiful giant cars with which they pull their beautiful giant caravans and which, for most French people, would take most of their life to pay for”.

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