Thanet council has been notified of a Traveller group which has set up in the authority owned car park next to Dreamland.
Around five caravans were on site yesterday evening (January 4) but this has now grown to some 15. It is believed some of the group were those who had previously been parked by the Winter Gardens but were served notice to quit.
The car park is one of the areas frequently used for encampments last year. In November Thanet council issued parking tickets alongside notice to quit.
The total number of unauthorised camps in Thanet last year was above 50, in 2013 just two were recorded.
The Housing Act 2004 placed a duty upon local authorities to produce assessments of accommodation need for Gypsies and Travellers.
In Summer 2013 Canterbury, Dover District, Shepway and Thanet councils commissioned the Salford Housing & Urban Studies Unit (SHUSU) at the University of Salford to produce an updated Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople Accommodation Assessment that was undertaken by DeMonfort University in 2007.
The primary purpose of this assessment was to provide up to date information and data regarding the needs and requirements of the Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople communities. The report presented the projection of pitch requirements for the period 2013 – 2027.
For Thanet it assessed that there was no need for permanent or transit pitches. For Canterbury the need was estimated at 40 pitches, Dover 7 and Shepway 7.
However the rise in the number of encampments for Thanet could force a review of that assessment.
Calls for a solution
There have been calls for an authorised camp to be considered for the isle and the idea of Negotiated Stopping – a contract between mobile Travellers and councils that allow the Travellers to camp for up to three months on specified areas of vacant council land – has also been raised.
The Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT) group has called on the Housing Minister to address the national shortage of Gypsy and Traveller sites and available stopping places in the UK. The group’s research shows there has been only been a 2% increase in socially rented pitches available between 2010 and 2017.