Gypsy and Traveller sites set to double

by Michael Smith

North West England will have to more than double the number of sites it provides for Gypsies and Travellers under a new draft policy for the region.

The forum for local authority leaders from the region, 4NW, has begun consulting on the plan, which would compel north west councils to find another 1,250 permanent and 270 temporary pitches by 2016, on top of the 950 sites that existed in 2007.

The new draft policy, part of 4NW’s partial review of regional strategy the North West Plan, is open for wide consultation until 18 March and the final version will be submitted to central government in July.

Michael Gallagher, 4NW’s director of planning, transport and housing, said there was ‘widespread support’ for a more strategic distribution of sites – placing them according to need rather than a simple formula for each council.

He added there was an ‘urgent need’ for more suitable accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers to provide better quality of life and access to services from legal pitches.

He said: ‘It is very important to address the issue. It is part of the homelessness agenda, and why should one section of the community not have somewhere to live?’

The fact that the number of those sites or shall we better say pitches will have to more than double shows that the counties and boroughs in that region never complied with the original policies under the Caravans Sites Act prior to Thatcher abolishing it. Not that really any council ever did.

When Mr. Gallagher said “... why should one section of the community not have somewhere to live?” he should also consider as to why it is every time that when Gypsies and Travellers wish to make their own provisions for sites they get turned down. Often on silly issues such as that were they have chosen to live is too far away from schools and shops and such. Is that not irrelevant when the people want to live there?

The fact is that when Gypsies want to do their own thing that does not fit into the scheme; that is the truth. They cannot be controlled on their own sites now, could they.

No one could come up and suggest to put CCTV cameras on their sites, as is being suggested for the council run sites now, in a great number of places. Obviously there are terrorist activities being planned on those Gyppos on those sites.

© M Smith (Veshengro), February 2009