Travellers group says greater authority powers not the answer

Published: Thursday 12th March 2015 by KCFM

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An advocacy group for travellers and gypsies says the calls from East Riding Councillors for greater powers to tackle unauthorised camps aren’t the answer.

Councillors in the East Riding are meeting today to discuss new measures to tackle the problems caused by unauthorised traveller camps.

The local authority says it wants tougher legislation to prevent travellers returning to the same sites, as well additional powers to allow them to recover the costs of any subsequent clean up.

But Shay Clipson from the Romany Gypsy and Traveller Consultancy says the proposals risk inflaming community relations. She says it would be better to set aside permanent camp sites – and that travellers would by happy to pay to use them:

“Gypsies and travellers do not want a free ride. They pay their taxes. They would like to be able, when they come into the area, to have a certain standard of living and hygiene, that they are used to. They would be happy to pay for that provision.”

“The settled community will know that is a place where travellers are supposed to be, and that they’re paying their way, the same as everybody else. So, after maybe a little bit of upheaval at first, it works out brilliantly everywhere it’s been used, and it saves local authorities a lot of money.”

“Police get phonecalls when travellers pull up into an area. People phone the police and assume that is a criminal offence, them being there. It is an unauthorised encampment, but it isn’t a criminal offence. If the general public realised this, that eases concerns.”

The idea of permanently allocated sites is something that’s also been proposed by Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Grove.

But East Riding Councillor Jackie Cracknell says none of the county’s parish councils are prepared to host one:

“There were 50 parish councils who responded and said they did not support the PCC’s proposal for transit sites, two supported the idea, seven more supported the idea but did not want sites in their parish. No parish council identified suitable sites within their own parishes.

“What we need is stronger powers to make things more tolerable for our local communities where there have been problems so gypsies and travellers cannot return to the same area within six months – double the length of time the current arrangements allow us.”

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Published: Thursday 12th March 2015 by KCFM

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