We're trying our best, say officials

DESPITE claims the Government is failing to tackle the issue, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister insists it has made some real improvements over the last year.
A spokeswoman said: "There are already strong and wide-ranging powers available to deal with unauthorised developments, unauthorised encampments and anti-social behaviour."

She said the introduction of new enforcement powers to tackle development on land owned by travellers, but without planning permission, and temporary stop notices, which forces development to pause for 28 days while it is investigated, were significant improvements.

The Housing Act 2004, which requires local authorities to assess the accommodation needs of travellers as well as the settled community, was held up as another important development.

She said: "As part of the new planning process, local authorities will have to identify sites suitable for gypsies and travellers to meet this need. This is effectively a duty to provide sites."

And she said £33 million had been made available to local authorities through the Gypsy Site Refurbishment Grant scheme since 2001.

The spokeswoman said: "The Government will be making further funding available through the Regional Housing Boards over the next two years for site provision and refurbishment."