Irish Traveller Movement in Britan
23 June 2011:
Government’s Localism Bill could increase Gypsy and Traveller unauthorised sites Irish Traveller Movement in Britain study reveals
A report launched today by the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain (ITMB) has found that only 1 out of a 100 Councils interviewed believe the measures in the Localism Bill will make planning for Gypsies and Travellers easier, while 55 Councils thought it would make provision more difficult. 40 % of councils specifically expressed concerns about increased local opposition to development for Travellers under the Bill’s community based planning system.
These stark findings come at a time when 1 in 5 Gypsies and Travellers living in caravans in England are legally homeless as they have no lawful place to site their caravans. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has also found that at the present rate of site provision, it will take up to 27 years to meet the backlog of need for Gypsy and Traveller accommodation.
Lord Avebury, Secretary to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Gypsy, Roma and Travellers commented:
‘There is nothing in the Localism Bill to oblige local authorities to make provision commensurate with the need, or to cooperate with their neighbours where some are manifestly not pulling their weight…This (ITMB) study demonstrates the consequences of proceeding as if ‘localism’ were an article of faith. There is still time to think again on a matter that is of enormous concern to the most deprived and disadvantaged of all ethnic minorities. Let them at least have somewhere they can live within the law, and let not the Government try to pretend that if they proceed with the Clauses affecting Travellers in the Localism Bill, it will not make their lives even harder.’
The Government expects Councils to set local targets for additional sites, but the ITMB study found a 52% fall in the targets acknowledged by local authorities, compared with those in the Regional Strategies which Ministers are in the process of abolishing through the Localism Bill. The Government expects Councils to identify new Traveller sites, however, the study found that Councils find it extremely difficult to do so due to often strong local opposition when sites are proposed.
The report, Planning for Gypsies and Travellers: The Impact of Localism concludes that the measures in the Government’s Localism Bill and ‘light touch’ planning policy, Planning for Traveller Sites will make the situation for Gypsies and Travellers even worse in terms of insecurity, homelessness, unauthorised development and evictions whilst at the same time increasing community tensions.
Notes to Editor
* The report, Planning for Gypsies and Travellers: The Impact of Localism will be available online from 23 June at www.irishtraveller.org.uk
* The Government is consulting on its draft planning policy statement, which is available at http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/travellersitesconsultation until July 6.
* The Irish Traveller Movement in Britain (ITMB) is a national community development policy and voice charity who campaign against discrimination, promote inclusion, participation and community engagement for the Irish Traveller and Gypsy communities in Britain. ITMB is proud to work in partnership with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities together with service providers and policy makers across the UK to better promote social inclusion and community cohesion.