A Travellers’ camp at Jackey Bakers will be moved on

Jackey Bakers' field

Travellers on Jackey Bakers field in Ramsgate will be moved on, says ward councillor Stuart Piper.

An encampment was evicted from the site on Tuesday. They then briefly set up at Dane Park in Margate but moved on the same evening.

The following day the group were reported to be in Herne Bay but enforcement action was taken there too.

A group of six or seven vans remain  at the sports field, close to Sainsbury’s at Westwood.

A separate group moved onto the Jackey Bakers just days after another encampment – which moved in last month – left the site.

Thanet council issued a ‘direction to leave’ last Friday but that group remained  until Tuesday.

Residents complained of violence, intimidation and mess since the field was taken over.

Ward councillor Stuart Piper said  the remaining encampment appears to be a separate group of Travellers who had set up at the site earlier this month.

The process

Council land

For council-owned land Thanet council would need to obtain a ‘direction to leave’ order from magistrates’ court.

To do this the authority has to:

  • Show that the gypsies/travellers are on the land without consent.
  • Have regard to the general health and welfare of the group and the children’s education.
  • Ensure that the Human Rights Act 1998 has been fully complied with.

The council must follow a set procedure that is based on Government guidance. This procedure includes proving ownership of the land, carrying out assessments for the health, welfare and education criteria, and assessing the impact of the encampment on its location and local neighbourhood.

Once these have been carried out the council can use this information for the service of notices and summonses to apply for a court order for eviction.

Private land

For privately-owned land the landowner can attempt to agree a leaving date with the travellers or take proceedings in the County Court under the Civil Procedures Rules 1998 to obtain a court order for their eviction as trespassers.

The landowner may be in breach of planning legislation and the Caravan Sites Act 1960 unless they have already obtained planning permission for a caravan site.

If there is no planning permission the council may take proceedings against the landowner to require removal of the illegally parked caravans.

Providing Traveller sites – the law

The Housing Act 2004 and Planning Circular 01/2006, Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites, has put in place a framework which means every local authority has to identify land for the sites that are needed in its area. The Secretary of State has powers that can ensure that those sites are identified, and the Local Government Association (LGA) says local authorities should be proactive in doing so.

The LGA adds: “The provision of these sites removes a major cause of friction between the two communities – unauthorised sites and illegal camping.”

The nearest authorised sites to Thanet are at Aylesham and Canterbury.

The Gypsy and Traveller communities

According to a report by the LGA there are around 16,000 Gypsy and Traveller caravans in England. Around three quarters of these caravans are on authorised sites.

Many of these sites are well-managed and are an accepted part of the local community. In 1994 the duty on local authorities to provide sites was removed and since then under-provision of authorised sites has resulted in Gypsies and Travellers camping on land that they do not own (unauthorised encampments) or developing their own land without planning permission (unauthorised developments).

While the number of caravans on unauthorised encampments has started to decline, the number of caravans on unauthorised developments has increased. The average size of an unauthorised development is around 4 caravans, and private sites with planning permission have an average of 6 caravans.