Written evidence from the National Federation
of Gypsy Liaison Groups (ARSS 109)|
The National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups is
dismayed at the changes that are being proposed by this present
We consider that over the past five years, there
has been an increased understanding of the Gypsy Traveller cultural
need to live in caravans, and that the circular 01/2006 was beginning
to work quite well. It was a mechanism to provide sites when districts
and boroughs were reluctant to provide for a variety of reasons.
The amendments to the Housing Act 2004 assisted the
whole process and we felt that we were finally getting somewhere
which was a benefit for all.
The problem for local district and boroughs with
regard to Gypsy Planning applications, is the "not in my
backyard syndrome". Whilst we can agree that it is good that
local people have a say in what is happening to their neighbourhood,
unfortunately this kind of localism also keeps people out, not
just Gypsy people, but it may be the planning for a Special Needs
complex of flats or a Special Needs school. Unfortunately these
applications are dealt the same kind of NIMBYISM as Gypsy applications
The sad thing about localism is that many Gypsy people
are local to more than one place, and have been for hundreds of
years. Very often, the makeup of the small towns and villages
where their families travelled to and from has been changed by
outsiders in the past 20-30 years.
It is often the case that the outsider becomes the
committed committee goer and the one that will lead the petition
against anything and everyonenot just Gypsies. This is
the one that seems to cement the worst of ill feeling, regardless
of the fact that the name of a Gypsy soldier may be on the village
or town war memorial along side that of a committee member's uncle
We cannot see how the situation on site provision
is going to improve when the grant to provide sites has been effectively
withdrawn; this means that there will be no pitches created without
private applications. There are some families that are never going
to be able to afford their own land and provide pitches for themselves.
Families that can provide for themselves are going
to be in a catch 22 situation if pitch numbers from the RSS are
now going to be ignored. This, coupled with the danger of localism
becoming "ultra localism" will cause real problems.
There are many Gypsy families that are willing to
provide their own small sites, but if the circular 01/2006 is
to be replaced, we worry as to the consequence.
Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group has undertaken numerous
planning cases and it fears that there will be a return to the
bad old days of continuous eviction, especially if there is no
good sound policy to make a positive legal change. Surely it is
more useful to discuss positive changes before acting on the perceived
It is far better to work with one another than be
in an entrenched position. We understand that CALA homes has issued
a Judicial Review against CLG. We are an interested party regarding
that case, we believe it covers many concerns as to the process
of law in this country.
We would ask that before any change happens to the
planning system, the Regional Spatial Strategy, or the 01/2006
circular, that there is adequate time to reflect, discuss and
bring about a positive proactive policy on Gypsy site provisions
that can be through a mixture of provision, by:
1. A return to the duty for local authorities
to provide some pitches.
2. The encouragement and assistance for private
We would like a network of sites to be overseen by
CLG, bearing in mind the Framework Convention for the Protection
of National Minorities we understand that Britain was
to update on this framework every five years. How is the present
Government going to answer to this Framework?
We have yet to recieve a reply as to whether a Race
Impact Assessment was undertaken before the decision to revoke
the Regional Spatial Strategies was made.
We hope that some consideration will be made to the
fact that a small minority group will be affected quite badly
by this decision and we are willing to assist in any discussions
that may come about to bring about a positive outcome.