A shortlist of three proposed temporary “tolerated pitches” for Travellers and Gypsies in Thanet has been ditched – with councillors agreeing there should be further work on the issue and extensive public consultation.
Members of Thanet council’s scrutiny committee said suggestions that pitches could be created at the former education space at Tivoli Brooks, Margate; Ramsgate Port car park and Potten Street car park in St Nicholas-at-Wade should not be put forward to Cabinet members for consideration.
Residents from St Nicholas-at-Wade and Ramsgate and members of the Salmestone Ward Residents Association attended the meeting last night (November 19) due to concerns over the named sites.
In a passionate speech one St Nicholas resident said: “It is a shame the review party did not consult residents of Potten Street or other sites. They might well have taken in that Potten Street is isolated and remote, there are no local police, it is vulnerable to criminal activity and targeted by dogging and unsavoury activities.”
The resident also said the car park, which is close to the busy A299, was unsuitable and unsafe. She added: “Before considering the comfort of those two (Traveller) families consider the concerns of council residents. The council needs to look harder and identify sites further from its law abiding, tax paying citizens.”
The aim was to use the pitches on a rotation basis to alleviate the issue of unauthorised camps on the isle. Thanet currently does not have an authorised Traveller site, with the nearest being in Canterbury and Dover.
Unauthorised encampments at sites including Dane Valley, Marina Esplanade, Government Acre and the car park by Dreamland have risen sharply from two in 2013 to 55 last year and 53 so far this year.
A report to councillors said since 2018, numerous incursions in Thanet have been as a result of two family groups. These families comprising of individually small groups (6-8 caravans), are a draw to other more transient groups meaning that incursions vary from 5-6 vehicles to in excess of 20. This group is linked to the 50+ incursions within the district in 2018 and most of the incursions in 2019.
Councillors were told by Penny Button, head of Thanet council’s safer neighbourhoods department: “Due to a rise in unauthorised encampments there has been identified in the Local Plan a cultural need for seven permanent and five transient pitches. Thanet is quite unique in having no authority or privately run sites.”
According to a report to councillors some 70 locations across Thanet have been assessed as vulnerable to vehicle based unauthorised encampments.
Costs and legal powers
Questions were raised by Cllr Stuart Piper over the costs incurred by Thanet due to unauthorised encampments, particularly in clean ups and court fees, which he said had been the original remit of the Traveller review group.
He said: “I estimate we have spent tens of thousands of pounds in clearing up over the last few years.
“Some Travellers may think they have found an easy victim in Thanet and are exploiting that.”
Cllr Piper said more attention should be paid to the powers that Thanet council could use to deal with illegal activity.
Margate Central councillor Rob Yates raised concerns over the Tivoli site saying it was too close to Dreamland and the seafront and would be expensive to create a suitable area.
The plot is also the subject of a proposal by the Salmestone Ward Residents Association for the creation of a community centre.
Cllr Lynda Piper questioned the inclusion of Ramsgate Port, saying: “Ramsgate Port is undergoing a feasibility study. If a business entrepreneur wanted to use the port they would not be happy to know there was a Travellers’ site there.”
She added that, as part of the review group, it had been “very very difficult to make decisions.”
Ramsgate councillor Peter Campbell proposed a recommendation to Cabinet members that further work on the feasibility and cost of temporary tolerated sites be examined but with extensive public consultation and with no suggested sites put forward.
The committee approved the proposal. A report will now go to council Cabinet members for discussion. The next Cabinet meeting is on December 16.
Friends, Families and Travellers charity
The Friends, Families and Travellers charity say local authorities need to provide adequate land for travellers to stop as many families are forced to pull up in public spaces and on private land. This leaves many with interrupted access to basic water and sanitation, education and healthcare.
.An FFT spokesman previously told The Isle of Thanet News that sites should be made available, saying: “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.”
Joseph P Jones, of the Gypsy Council, said the council was using the review as a ‘get out key’ instead of actively creating a solution.
He said: “Since 1968, (Thanet councils have) used the ‘actively looking for sites’ as a get out key, it’s the old chestnut of ‘we are trying.’ Thanet has had no desire to provide over five decades. On their own admittance, they need to provide 12 pitches, but I doubt that will (happen) over the next ten years or so.
“Who in the Gypsy and Traveller community have they consulted with? They seem to rebuke any offers from organisations to make representation to the scrutiny committee. This is why the Gypsy Council has made its own decision to present to the council, our proposed site at the Truck Stop at Minster. It’s a brown field site, a prime development plot. Until TDC decides to bring all relevant parties to the table within the scrutiny committee, nothing will be decided.”
The proposal for Minster is for the site to accommodate between nine and 15 vans, through three permanent and seven transient pitches, with associated facilities. The arrangement will be to take a 99 year lease on the land.
WE SHOULD PROVIDE NOTHING , in age of austerity why should we provide facilities to people who contribute absolutely nothing. they get there water for nothing ,do they pay road tax or have insurance, are they charged any money when they take over car parks, do they pay for the extensive clean up
So you don’t agree with people up holding their traditions? The hounding off travellers as it says costs the council’s trends of thousands of pounds. As to your claim of illegal vehicles etc do you have proof? At every site the police had been there and will obviously checked for all illegalities or are you saying the police are not doing their job? As to clean up obviously you haven’t read the previous articles as it is always made clear the travellers always ask for bins etc to be provided so they can keep the sure clean whilst they are there but every time the council refuses that request so who is in the wrong? The people to blame for this situation is the Tories it was then that removed the requirement for councils too provide proper and adequate sites for travellers. Before then these problems Did not exist. All they want to do is live in a traditional way not too be harassed or joined and especially not vilified for a situation which is not of their making.
Swithin I agree 100% with you and to add a little more if the people anywhere in thanet had been consulted on a suggested site 99%of them would say I don’t want them here let them have one of the other sites or that site is better for them they are bigoted hateful to the travelling community society in general are like this with anyone who is slightly different or has a slightly different way of living come-on they are no different to any of us they are humans entitled to exactly the same as all of us. TDC are pussy footing around again is because of the election that you can’t make a decision so as not to upset your voters. How many more months do you need to sort it out or will it be summer 2020 and you say we are looking into possible sites again get on with it.
We own a campervan and we like to go “travelling” in order to enjoy what different areas around the country have to offer. However, we pay for a site to stay on & in return we are provided with amongst other things, water, toilets, showers, electricity & bins for our rubbish. While staying on a site, we do not go around shitting in the bushes, stealing from local residents or businesses, threatening locals with violence or committing any other crimes of any description. Once the “travellers” can prove that they can do likewise, then perhaps they might get a more sympathetic ear from the tax paying, law abiding citizens of this country.
I agree DB. They are their own worst enemy regarding being accepted into societies that are ainly law-abiding. Tradition is it to come away and ruin peoples lives where they live peacefully? Tradition to expect everyone else to look after them on their terms when they arrive without warning and set-up in front of residents homes then let the kids and dogs out along with the off-road bikes that zoom up and down the area and threatening people going about their own business. Tradition to get drunk at every opportunity and wreck bars and pick fights with customers or brawl amongst themselves. Tradition to use vehicles not taxed and Mot’d (yes we see it and yes the authorities will not deal with it), just type the registration numbers into the DVLA website and there is your proof. Tradition to scam residents for false jobs needing doing whilst cold-calling at homes locally. Tradition to fly-tip all over the countryside and leave their waste behind each time they move to the next site. Tradition not to pay their way in the car parks they take over and elsewhere. Tradition to go stealing, blah, blah, blah. I am bored now. No wonder 99% of the population don’t want them, neither do we, they cost us too dearly! Their traditions do not intertwine with the majority fortunately.
One again another post full of prejudice and views without any facts or proof. This type of bigotry if why people complain that the travellers community are not friendly. Would you be friendly too people who use these slurs in you got family and your heritage?
The way I see it is straight forward, if you want somewhere to stay buy some land. Don’t expect the rest of society to pay for your chosen life style. They have no respect for the people paying to clear there mess up and think they can do what they want.
When they were at government acre earlier this year, my daughter who is two was playing on the grass and several of there vans drove at speed towards where she was to leave the area, I had to run and grab her out the way. If these people want to know why we don’t want them here and especially to foot the bill for them, perhaps they should look at how the behave!
The police and the government need to get tough with these travellers. They are nothing but thieves with no respect for anyone and have no place in our society. They are also a huge drain on already cut council budgets, but of course they don’t care because as long as they get away with doing whatever they want and people show them sympathy they will carry on. Toughen up people it is not acceptable how they treat tax paying citizens.
As said if you want somewhere to stay, buy or rent somewhere like everyone else!
Dodd you miss the articles about how they that the the traveler community themselves are trying to negotiate a99 year lease to use a site by the co-op petrol station and how the local nimbys are doing everything they can you stop it by saying things like we don’t have a police station! When they try to support themselves with their own money they are still greeted with prejudice and bigotry. Three traveler community who have been persecuted for generations can not win in three eyes of many without any proof.
Brilliant. So, whilst the Council continues to prevaricate, the travellers continue to turn up wherever and whenever they want.
Within, I don’t know which fantasy Rupert Bear land you frequent, but in this real world the travellers leave indescribable filth everywhere they go. I have personally seen the human faeces down by the Marina carpark; I’ve seen youths, with no sense of public decency, using the bushes as a toilet.
For goodness’ sake, TDC, stop putting off the inevitable. Make a decision!
Sorry “Swithin” , not “Within”
No Rupert best country I guess that what you would like a nutwood. You saw faeces in a car park so that had to be travellers? Only travellers urinates in bushes? Are they perfect no but then would you be if you are vilified and demonised constantly? As I said I grew up in a area much like Ramsgate with travellers in the community without any issues. Even when they try to find a solution themselves with their own money that is not good enough for the Nutwood residents.
Plenty of spare ground on Sheppey. Good place for an encampment!
Why don’t you move there then?
Do our M.P.’s have anything to say about Boris cabinet spouting off about councils being given powers to fine unlawful settlements, charge full clear up costs and sieze their vans and vehicles for non payment or was it more promise anthing, it’s election time?
Obviously some of the posts are written by people who have never encountered any of these travellers with their antisocial behaviour. Like some others on here, I have been on the wrong end of their actions when they have been illegally camped up at government acre by being almost run over by kids on a quad bike to being verbally abused for walking my dog close to their encampment. If they want a site then they can pay like the rest of us and pay tax on their expensive vehicles!
I guess you are r referring to my list amongst others. I grew up in an area with a strong travelers community both with legal pitches and those who decided to moved into houses in three same area. I went too school with travellers children and never had any issues. If you demonise people and openly prejudice towards them without actually getting to knows them or taking the time to understand their culture and their history they will always be hostile towards you andd understandably so.
Southwood Mike I too am like swithin have lived and grew up with and also went to school with and so did my sister and brother. Gypsies, travellers, which of the two names you use try getting to know them speak with them listen to what they say you will be surprised to hear they are like you and me humans. Did you know that some react the way you say is because of the treatment they get from people who fear someone who is different not evil they want to be left to get on with life just like those in houses. And they are trying to lease land to do so but you all object to it and why because they do the same as people in houses. Yes according to you there antisocial behaviour do you think we don’t have it on our streets day in day out. Try to understand them and there way of life.