The Travellers’ encampment at the council-owned car park at the back of Dreamland has increased in size again while legal proceedings have been adjourned until tomorrow (May 25).
The first of the group moved on to the site on May 14. The following day they were issued notice to quit by Thanet council but remained at the site with vans increasing from six to 10 by that weekend.
Now there are around 16 caravans and it is possible that that they will remain over the bank holiday after a possession order application to the County Court last week was adjourned until tomorrow’s hearing.
The car park is now empty of any other vehicles.
It is the third time the car park has been used as an encampment in the past three months. A group who moved onto the site in March left two days later following the issuing of a court summons.
A second group used the site in April. The same month the Travelling community set up at Dane Valley Green.
Further settlements this year have taken place at St Nicholas, Manston Tesco and land by the Manston airport site, which is still in use by several vans and horses.
Applying to the courts for an eviction notice costs the council some £226. Further hearings ca mean the bill n goes up to £355 each time.
Dreamland had no comment to offer but said the park is open throughout the bank holiday weekend and half term, and Arlington car park is available throughout.
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.
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 areas to Thanet are at Aylesham and Canterbury but according to Kent County Council there are currently no plots available at these sites.