Council investigates solutions as Tivoli Park Traveller group brings isle’s unauthorised encampments to 39 so far this year

Travellers' site proposals Photo Gavin Wallis

A Traveller group has set up at Tivoli Park in Margate, bringing unauthorised encampments this year to 39.

The group arrived today (August 7) and are in addition to an encampment at Dane Park where there are now around 15 caravans. A gathering at the Sunken Gardens on Westbrook Prom was moved on by police and council enforcement officers today.

A summons to court has been issued on the Travellers at Dane Park – a hearing is scheduled for Friday (August 9) and a summons will be issued to the group at Tivoli park imminently, the council say.

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.

An update from the council’s Travellers Review sub committee is due on October 22. The  Overview and Scrutiny committee meeting will take place at the council offices in Cecil Street from 7pm. Members of the public may attend.

Unauthorised camps have risen from two in 2013 to 50 last year.

Residents’ concerns

 Dane Park

Thanet residents, particularly those living at frequently used sites such as Dane Valley Green, the Westcliff and, previously, Jackey Bakers in Ramsgate, say mess, noise and intimidation are the main issues. There have also been complaints of damage to public areas.

Last year security measures were installed at Jackey Bakers fields after Thanet council responded to a campaign by residents asking for help to prevent Traveller incursions and nuisance bikers from using the area.

Measures included bollards to restrict vehicle access, CCTV and 200 metres of metal fencing.

A similar plea for barriers, a ditch or a bund has been made by residents at Dane Valley .

Authorised pitches

There are currently no authorised pitches in Thanet district. The nearest pitches are in Dover and Canterbury.

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.

Suggestions in the report also 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.

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.

The group says 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.”

Thanet council process explained

The first step is to notify Kent Police and Kent County Council’s Gypsy and Traveller unit.

TDC then visit the site to establish the extent of the encampment, make records of the number of caravans, tents or persons, complete required welfare checks, make records of vehicle registration plates and take photographs where necessary.  Welfare checks are required by law and any welfare concerns are escalated to the relevant support agencies or departments.

If no concerns for welfare are raised or can not be evidenced, a Notice is served detailing an imminent departure time.

If welfare concerns are raised and can be evidenced or the encampment is in a location that causes no safety concerns and there are no other anti-social or criminal behaviours present then Government guidance states that the encampment should be tolerated for a short period of time.

If the encampment remains past the time detailed on the Notice, a first court hearing is requested. The timescales in order to carry out appropriate checks and obtain hearings may mean there is 7-10 days between first visit to the encampment and the first court hearing.

If agreed by Magistrates, the court will issue a summons to the occupants of the encampment requiring attendance at a second hearing.  This is then served on the occupants by the council with police support.

The court can schedule this second hearing at anytime they see fit. The council cannot influence this timescale.

At the second hearing the court considers granting an order for removal; if granted this is then served on the occupants and gives them a date and time by which they must leave the land they are camped on.

If this order is not complied with then the council has to instruct bailiffs to forcibly remove the occupants and their vehicles.


  1. It is a total disgrace that these people can give the council the run around wasting council employees time and tax payers money.

    • Would it help if the word “days” in the timescales was changed to “hours” or “minutes” & a costs order was imposed for legal fees?

    • These people? They are the traveling community they should like you and I have the right to live how they want and their culture wishes. The issue is not ‘these people’ but the fact that they’re is nowhere for them to legality pitch. The council probably had wasted more money in keep moving them on as it would have if it created an official site for them. The answer starting our councils in the faces is there needs to be an official pitch established urgently.

      • The travelling community need to be protected against discrimination by the public. The need for official sites is long overdue! TDC has in itself been discriminatory by ignoring this crisis, so any costs blame is with the Council.

  2. Kathy, have you interviewed anyone from Thanet police as to why they are reluctant to prosecute anyone for dumping rubbish at these sites?

    Also you mention you’ve been in contact with the FFTO – was the issue of rubbish dumping raised at all?

    • Also check the road fund license insurance driving license, are they wanted by the police, hassle them,Tdc are the laughing stock.

  3. The Travellers appear to be a law to themselves, with the police reluctant or unable to enforce the basics. Littering, dumping, vehicle tax and insurance, intimidation are all common problems let alone the one of trespass. As for paying council tax, income tax and a myriad of other fees we all have to pay, the list goes on. This seriously needs addressing at government level as the rest of us have had enough. Why should they be able to live outside of the laws the rest of us have to abide by? Try parking YOUR Ford Focus in the middle of Dane Park and see how long it takes Plod to come along, remove you and take you to court over it!

  4. Perhaps the council needs to learn from other authorities where their strategies have been successful..there are recourses to law available and KCC could offer more support..October is a long way off for issues now!

  5. Previous report on this site stated that a TDC Working Group was set up in February 2019 to investigate the “traveller” problem.

    This report states there will be a meeting of the sub committee on 22 October.

    Clearly that will be too little, too late to do anything for this year because all the “travellers” will have travelled back home for the winter.

    By next Spring, everything will have been forgotten, the “travellers” will return and the whole fiasco will start all over again . . .

  6. I reported to the police about 2 travellers caravans pulling up on Broadstairs promenade,the police obviously didn’t take my call seriously ,they could have prevented more caravans turning up bit they didn’t and then they were there for weeks.
    They would be better off funding a permanent pitch rather than complaining about the amount of money it costs to clear up after them, it would save them money in the long run.
    What really surprises me is that the travelling community pride themselves on their cleanliness of their vans and yet leave their surroundings in such a disgusting mess

  7. These Irish travellers would be better tolerated if they were 2 keep the place clean and clear up after them. But no I have had many doins with proper romany gypsies and they are clean living people with respect for the environment. Unlike the lazy idle scumbags uneducated shite. Yes I am bias with very good reason. They have no respect for anything or anyone.

  8. If this was general public we would be fined, etc. Why not bill them for the cost of removal, cleaning up after and removal of vehicles. There just playing cat n mouse with the council, running up bills for tax payers. Why does it seem to be imagrants and travels can dictate how they live while we get bigger bills and more cuts???. Thanet council your unfit for purpose as you have been for 40 years plus. 3 million to move offices????, why not buy a caravan and do what the travellers do, money saved.

    • It is clear that before being “billed” for costs incurred including legal fees then they need to have fair warning, then they need to be identified and once billed enforcement is more difficult and costly. Please explain how to resolve that??

  9. Need to send in armed police to check for illegal firearms and weapons why do they need a permanent site they are travellers get some balls TDC and do what you are paid for

    • Where do you get the idea of “firearms”. Typical scaremongering next it will be “search them for a nuclear bomb”

  10. Switchin. As your so concerned about them why not let them park outside your house or better still invite them in.
    If these people have enough sense to avoid paying tax and doing as they like when they like living in motor homes and caravans costing £60,000 / £80,000 or more they can buy a plot of land and apply for planning permission like the rest of us who live within the law.

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