An action plan is being developed by Thanet council to deal with the growing number of unauthorised Traveller encampments in the district.
A working group has been set up to investigate the issue and look at areas including Traveller accommodation, security measures and increased enforcement at high risk areas.
The news was revealed at a full council meeting tonight (July 11) in response to a question from Dane Valley councillor Gary Taylor.
Dane Valley Green is one of the areas persistently used by Traveller groups. In 2017 a request was made by Cllr Taylor and a colleague to Thanet council for a ditch to be cut along the perimeter and the soil used to make mound, sewn with wild flowers, as a preventative measure.
However, this did not take place and encampments continued, making up a large proportion of the 55 unauthorised camps last year compared to just two in 2013.
Dane Valley Green Photo John CrippsA 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.
There are currently no authorised pitches in Thanet district.
Tonight Cllr Taylor asked: “How is the new administration going to tackle the expensive Traveller incursions?”
Cabinet member for Housing, Cllr Lesley Game, replied: “A significant amount of activity is underway to address the growing number of unauthorised encampments in the district. In 2018 these rose to 55. We are developing a strategy to ensure resources are targeted as effectively as possible.”
She said a new task group had been set up in February and they would be working on the action plan.
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 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.”
A Traveller group is currently set up on the Chatham and Clarendon owned field at the rear of Newington primary school.
The school is aware of the situation.