A new report commissioned by Thanet council says the district should provide five Traveller pitches -to accommodate 10 caravans – in the five year period up to 2022 and then an additional two pitches – equating to four more caravans- by 2031.
The Thanet Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) was commissioned in July 2017, and carried out by consultants arc4 to identify the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople from across Thanet.
It was discussed last week as part of the Local Plan examination.
There are currently no authorised pitches in Thanet district. The report describes unauthorised encampments as “sporadic” over recent years.
There were 50 unauthorised camps in Thanet last year, compared to just two in 2013. There have been at least a dozen this year, mainly consisting of groups moving from one isle site to another.
Lack of official sites
A spokesman from the Friends, Families and Travellers organisation has previously told The Isle of Thanet News that a lack of official sites is forcing groups to pull up on public land and not enough is being done to address that issue.
They also highlighted that despite a Government scheme making £4.7 billion available under the Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme 2016-2021 – which includes provisions to build Gypsy and Traveller sites – not a single local authority has used this funding to build sites.
They added: “It would appear that there is a need in Thanet for authorised sites to be built. We would recommend that the district council and local authority work with the Traveller community in the area to identify land that would be suitable for building new sites to accommodate these residents.”
This has now been backed by the arc4 report which says: “The GTAA (report) 2017/18 has found evidence of Gypsy and Traveller pitch need over the next five years (2018/19 to 2021/22) for a minimum of one pitch and up to five pitches under the cultural definition. For the overall remainder of the Local Plan Period (up to 2030/31) the GTAA has identified a cultural need for seven pitches.”
While research into the report was being carried out there were two unauthorised traveller camps on the isle and members of those groups spoke to arc4.
The report says: “Interviews with 6 households on an unauthorised encampment were achieved. These families need a site to live on but were not specifically looking in Thanet and therefore not included in the assessment of permanent pitch need.
“Given the increasing incidence of unauthorised encampment activity, it would be recommended that a transit site or temporary stopping place would be appropriate. A site of 5 pitches would be able to accommodate up to 10 caravans.”
The report says that, according to the 2011 Census, there are 69 Gypsies and Traveller households currently
living across Thanet, of whom 68 households live in bricks and mortar accommodation and one lives in a caravan.
Council evidence given to arc4 said there are two main family groups involved with unauthorised encampments on the isle.
The report says: “There are a range of reasons why they are in Thanet including family links, education and economic reasons. In particular there are links to family and Germany and Lancashire and Thanet is seen as a good intermediate location for travelling between these areas. There is an indication that older members of the group wish to settle permanently in Thanet, but that others will continue economic activity and travel between Thanet, Lancashire and Germany. This reinforces a need for a mix of permanent and transit provision.
“For the overall remainder of the Local Plan Period (up to 2030/31) the GTAA (assessment) has identified a cultural need for 7 pitches.”
For the assessment a joint stakeholder consultation was undertaken in partnership with Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Shepway and Swale councils.
This revealed some respondents felt there should be additional support to assist Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople families, including more officer training, raising awareness, building better links between communities, helping the community engage with parish and town councils, making information more available, employing liaison officers and providing education support such as Virtual Schools.
Some respondents were concerned about racism and conflict with the settled community. It was noted by one stakeholder that most knowledge and awareness among settled communities was formed via the media, and personal experience in the context of conflict over either transient encampments or unauthorised development.
Suggestions to raise awareness included training officers to better understand the ways and traditions of Gypsies and Travellers; ‘myth busting’; establishing better links with existing Traveller community groups and raising awareness through websites, public meetings and events.
Traveller groups at Dane Valley in Margate and Ramsgate’s Eastcliff were evicted this week by Thanet council. Some members have now moved on to the Marina Esplanade car park in Ramsgate.
Sarah Mann, Director of Friends, Families and Travellers, said:“We are pleased to see that Thanet council has carried out the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment. Now is the time to act on the recommendations and to start the planning process for pitches in the area.
“Unauthorised encampments are a result of a chronic shortage of sites in the UK. We look forward to seeing the positive action Thanet council takes to build these pitches and to support members of the Gypsy and Traveller communities in the area.”
I have no objection to so called Travellers having a permanent site, as long as they pay for it, and its upkeep. Why should we Council Tax payers pay for their chosen way of life? At one time a few months ago about 12 caravans were sited behind the Tesco store, and the University Buildings, in Millennium Way. They left it in a mess, but it seems a good place for them, if they bought it after obtaining Planning Permission, and installing the usual infrastructure, Water, Sewage, Power etc, and so their kids can go to school.
The only long term solution. The Council can then charge a weekly rent as well as taking cash deposits from those stopping there in case any clear up is needed. Travellers will then contribute to the cost of supplying services like anyone else and will have to keep the place tidy like anyone else.
Travellers 1 TDC 0 [half time score].
They are NOT TRAVELLERS they are pain in the rear stoppers. If they kept travelling they would not be a problem it’s when the stop they cause havoc . In law Gypsies May be entitled to apply for planning permission for a plot of land to be turned into a residential site, travellers AKA fly tippers aka bandits do NOT have the same rights as Gypsies.
I think they need to show that they can be responsible members of the community. So far all they seem to do is leave a huge amount of rubish behind and dedicate all over the place. We have camp sites in Thanet why can’t they pay to go on those?
All TDC should do is apply to the High Court for an Injunction to keep the travellers off of grren land and car parks like they have done in Canterbury last week. https://www.kentonline.co.uk/canterbury/news/travellers-face-two-year-jail-term-for-pitching-up-202565/
If they continue to be a nuisance then off to prison they go. Why hasn’t TDC taken this route instead of the silly eviction applications from local Magistrates? Someone please tell them to follow Canterbury as there has been even more incidents here than there.
Canterbury has available sites for “Travellers “, so there i’s no excuse, hence the injunction.
TDC has none: hence no injunction available.
I worked in Hackney for the Council for 32 years and they had four “designated sites” for Irish Travellers of a very good quality. As a result we never had any unauthorised incursions and word went around their “community” that our Borough should be left alone. They are a distinctive group with long histories and culture but are increasingly at odds with the modern world and a lot of their younger people are now reconciled to a sedentary life-style. Spending huge amounts of council officer and Police time chasing them all over the Isle of Thanet is not the answer so the decision to have authorised pitches is most welcome but should have been done years before.
I agree Keith. It costs TDC (us residents) around £3000 and a long time, each time a traveller group is moved on, as they tend to ignore eviction notices and court decisions. If they had a permanent site, the council would have the power to evict them immediately from unauthorised sites across Thanet.
its about time thanet council listen to the people and send a survey to people asking if they want them here they are just like the bloody government people have no say yet still pay their wages do gooders dont live in the real world you want a honest answer no no no
I am afraid it is pigheadedness by TDC again.Their usual policy is never to make a decision, because to do so means they could be called to account.In contrast some policies they adopt like Thanet Parkway,flies in the face of almost overwhelming evidence.Dover built their pitches in the 1980’s,Canterbury followed suit,hence both can use court injunctions to move travellers on.
In the past there were generous Govt grants to help to resolve a challenging problem, now however? TDC has now made this matter so difficult to resolve,because of a failure of leadership politically and within the executive.Having not tackled this matter with some resolution in the past, they now will find it difficult to persuade an enraged host community to accept what are challenging individuals within its midst. I do not envy their limited choice of options,but I am afraid they brought it upon themselves.
Good points George – we actually found it was reasonably easy to integrate travellers into the local community once they were on a settled site. Most mothers want their kids to go to school regularly and this is always a good way to integrate people. Also, virtually all travellers are astonishingly devout Roman Catholics and their homes are full up with crucifixes and plaster saints. Many go to church three times on a Sunday! Local catholic clergy and active lay-people can forge close links quite quickly.
This article headline proclaimes “New report” but the text states the report was commissioned in July 2017. Has it really taken nearly two years to compile ?
In any event, I have two questions:
1). How much has this report cost Thanet Council Tax payers?
2). Where does the report recommend that the proposed travellers’ site be situated?
What a load of rubbish, ‘traveller community’, ‘their culture’ rubbish, they are just a bunch of itinerant filth.
If you want to see how to deal with these people look no further than Ireland, their supposed home and see how they deal with them.