ILLEGAL encampments which have continued to blight the lives of residents are the subject of a new consultation that could lead to enhanced powers for local authorities.

The move has been welcomed by Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West, following a series of offences in Reading and West Berkshire in recent years.

During his time as Housing Minister, the Conservative led a debate in Parliament about the government's ability to deal with the traveller community.

The launch of the consultation will be welcome news to residents, after more than £95,000 was spent on clearing 87 illegal encampments last year.

Alok Sharma said: “I am absolutely delighted with the announcement from my successor, Dominic Raab MP, that this consultation has now been launched.

"Over the past months there have been incursions of unauthorised encampments within my constituency in Tilehurst, Calcot and off the Oxford Road and I know how frustrated local residents are over this issue.

Reading Chronicle:

"I would urge all constituents who have concerns about illegal encampments to respond to this consultation so that the government gets a very clear message about the strength of feeling from law-abiding local communities about this matter.”

The consultation, which will run until June 15, will seek views from local authorities, police, residents and the travelling community.

Last year, Reading Borough Council launched a consultation on transforming a disused patch of land into a dedicated traveller site near Richfield Avenue.

Mr Raab, Sharma's successor, added: “Honourable members raised their concerns about the impact of unauthorised development and encampments.

"We heard a clear message that despite an array of enforcement powers already in place, tackling unauthorised development and encampments remains a significant issue.

"This is why we are committed to consult on the effectiveness of enforcement against unauthorised developments and encampments.

"I want to seek views on whether there is anything we can do to ensure that existing powers can be used more effectively, as well as whether additional powers may be necessary.”

Visit: to view the consultation.