Travellers have set up an encampment on the Dreamland car park.
Around ten caravans and vehicles reportedly moved on to the site this evening (March 24).
The car park is Thanet council property, meaning the authority may have to apply to the courts for an eviction notice. This would cost some £226. If further hearings are necessary, this can go up to £355 each time.
Dane Valley councillor Gary Taylor says he was contacted by worried residents. He has passed details to Margate ward councillor Iris Johnston.
A Thanet council spokesman said today (March 27): “We are aware of the traveller incursion at the Dreamland car park. We have police and community safety officers on site today (March 27) to complete the required welfare checks. If no welfare needs are identified, officers will issue a Section 77 notice requiring them to leave the land forthwith.”
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.
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.
There were some 84 illegal encampments in Thanet last year, the majority of these being Traveller camps, compared to just two in 2014.
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.