Car­a­vans owned by trav­ellers on the de­crease in bor­oughs

Ruislip & Eastcote & Northwood Gazette - - News -

NEW fig­ures have re­vealed how many car­a­vans be­long­ing to trav­ellers there are in Houn­slow, Hilling­don and Eal­ing.

The lat­est data from the Min­istry of Hous­ing, Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment shows that, in July, there were 45 Gypsy, Roma and Trav­eller car­a­vans in Houn­slow, 77 fewer than in 2016.

In the same month there were 39 Trav­eller car­a­vans in Eal­ing, which was 17% less than in 2016.

In Hilling­don in July there were 20 trav­eller car­a­vans, which is roughly the same as two years pre­vi­ous.

In July all of the car­a­vans in the three bor­oughs were so­cially rented with plan­ning per­mis­sion.

The to­tal num­ber of trav­eller car­a­vans in Eng­land has in­creased steadily over re­cent years. There were more than 22,600 in July, an in­crease of more than 5,000 over a decade.

A mi­nor­ity of trav­eller car­a­vans, slightly more than 3,000, were on unau­tho­rised sites.

Jim Davies, from the Trav­eller Move­ment, said the fig­ures showed that the stereo­typ­i­cal view of trav­ellers painted by the me­dia was not re­flected in re­al­ity.

He said: “Cer­tainly, the stereo­typ­i­cal view of Gyp­sies and trav­ellers on vil­lage greens and chil­dren’s foot­ball pitches pre­sented by the me­dia is largely in­ac­cu­rate.

“Not only do close to 80% of gyp­sies and trav­ellers live in bricks and mor­tar ac­com­mo­da­tion, but of those unau­tho­rised car­a­vans counted at the last car­a­van count, more than two thirds were on Gypsy or Trav­eller-owned land.”

Mr Davies added that it was im­por­tant that “pol­icy mak­ers and re­searchers con­sider the whole gypsy and trav­eller pop­u­la­tion, in­stead of the mi­nor­ity”.

Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in Leeds have re­cently tri­alled a sys­tem of “ne­go­ti­ated stop­ping”, which has been hailed as a suc­cess by trav­eller groups.

It in­volves the coun­cil ne­go­ti­at­ing a code of con­duct with the trav­ellers and Gyp­sies liv­ing on road­side camps and pro­vid­ing wa­ter, waste dis­posal and por­ta­ble toi­lets un­til the Trav­ellers move on at an agreed date and time.

It is es­ti­mated to have saved the coun­cil thou­sands of pounds in le­gal fees.

Si­mon Black­burn, of the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, said that au­thor­i­ties have a duty to up­hold the law when illegal en­camp­ments are set up.

He said: “Coun­cils are com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing that their lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties are safe, in­clu­sive and wel­com­ing. They also know that the vast ma­jor­ity of Trav­ellers are law-abid­ing cit­i­zens and of­ten con­trib­ute much to the com­mu­ni­ties they stay in.

“How­ever, when en­camp­ments are clearly breach­ing the law and caus­ing con­cern and in­con­ve­nience to com­mu­ni­ties, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties have a duty to take ac­tion to en­sure the law is up­held, which they do work­ing along­side the po­lice and the court sys­tem.

“With lo­cal au­thor­i­ties fac­ing a short­fall of £7.8 bil­lion by 2025, coun­cils can ill af­ford to have to re­cover the sig­nif­i­cant costs of re­mov­ing illegal en­camp­ments and the as­so­ci­ated clean up costs.

“There are also in­stances of some en­camp­ments con­tin­u­ing for pro­longed pe­ri­ods of time which can have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, with coun­cils and pri­vate landown­ers of­ten in­cur­ring costs from evict­ing tres­passers.”

Trav­ellers pic­tured in Northolt

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