A number of charities have written to the Government urging it to address the ‘root cause’ of unauthorised Gypsy and Traveller sites rather than adopting more punitive measures.
The housing minister Dominic Raab announced earlier this month a review of the law and powers to deal with illegal traveller sites. The latest figures show that 16% of all caravans – around 3,700 – are on unauthorised sites.
The consultation covers police and local authority powers, court processes, Government guidance, the provision of legal sites, and the impact on settled and nomadic communities.
However, 25 charities — including Friends, Families and Travellers and Race Equality Foundation — have written to Mr Raab urging him to ‘put traveller site provision first’.
‘We wish to highlight that increased enforcement powers are likely to worsen issues with unauthorised sites for settled communities across the country,’ the letter states.
‘If families are evicted from an unauthorised site, they often have nowhere else to go and therefore will have no other option but to create a new unauthorised site in a new area.
‘A better first step is to focus on adequate site provision in order to meet current and future need and for the government to fulfil its “positive obligation to facilitate the Gypsy way of life” (as outlined by the European Court of Human Rights in Chapman v UK).’
‘We the undersigned urge Ministers to support Gypsies and Travellers in the UK in addressing issues of site provision as a basis to improve the appalling health and education outcomes for many people in these communities,’ the letter continues.
‘If Gypsy and Traveller families cannot access a site to live on, they do not have easy access to water and sanitation, which most of us take for granted in the UK in the 21st Century.’