Notice to leave issued to Traveller group at Dane Valley Green

Dane Valley Green Photo John Cripps

Notice to leave has been issued to a Traveller group at Dane Valley Green in Margate and a group at the Sunken Gardens in Westbrook. Council officers are also “following the appropriate legal process” concerning a second group at Marina Esplanade car park in Ramsgate.

The group at Dane Valley arrived on July 24 and currently has some 20 caravans on site.

The second group moved on to the Ramsgate seafront car park on Monday.

A Thanet council spokesperson said: “Thanet District Council’s Community Safety Team are aware that travellers are on the land at Dane Valley Green and council officers have visited them to carry out the necessary welfare checks. As there are no welfare concerns a Section 77 Order has been issued.

“The group at the Sunken Gardens have also been issued the Section 77.

“The team are also aware of travellers on land at Marina Esplanade Car Park, Ramsgate and will be following the appropriate legal process in relation to this group too.”

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 on 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.

Thanet provision of Traveller pitches

A 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. The nearest pitches are in Dover and Canterbury.

Friends, Families and Travellers organisation

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.”