Plea for better facilities at temporary Ramsgate Port Traveller site as mum struggles to look after extremely sick baby daughter

The temporary site at the Port

A mum whose baby girl has been very poorly after the discovery of a lump in her neck is urging Thanet council to provide more facilities at the temporary Traveller site she is staying on.

The mum, who has asked not to be identified due to fears of ethnically motivated abuse, is part of a Pavee family group that was moved to Ramsgate Port this month from an unauthorised encampment at Palm Bay.

Her youngest child, now eight months, is currently under the care of QEQM Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital while investigations to determine whether the lump is cancerous -including an upcoming biopsy – are underway.

In the last couple of weeks the little girl has become very poorly.

Her mum said: “She started getting sick. I thought it was her teeth but she ended up with a viral infection in her throat. Her tonsils were enlarged and had white pus and bubbles on the side where the lymph nodes are. The infection went through her whole body,

“The lump causes an obstruction in her throat. She was put on antibiotics through IVF and was that sick that she couldn’t eat and drink and was not crying, just moaning because she was in so much pain. She was on IV fluids for five days and then I was given antibiotics for her to take home.

“She has drops and an anaesthetic spray for her throat. We still don’t know what it is, her bloods are still being analysed.”

The mum says her 11-year-old son is also suffering  due to chronic asthma. He has a nebuliser machine – to help the respiratory process- to use morning and night but there is no electricity at the site.

This means the medicines can’t be kept cool and the nebuliser cannot be powered.

The mum said: “If he doesn’t have the nebuliser and takes a bad attack I have to take him to hospital. I already have a sick baby and can’t cut myself in half.

“The GOSH consultant had to contact the council. If I didn’t give proof my baby was sick and in a serious condition and that she needs treatment and to be left alone, then they just would keep moving me on and on and out of the district but Canterbury, Herne Bay, Ashford, no-one wants to know.”

The mum, who says she has been issued with several fines due to being on an unauthorised site prior to the move to the port, suffers with COPD and a heart condition herself.

She has her baby registered with a doctor in the area and says better facilities are needed so she can properly care for her children.

Thanet District Council attended Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, May 27 seeking an order for removal of the group from Palm Bay. This was unsuccessful on welfare grounds and the council was required to identify an alternative site in order to comply with the court. Ramsgate Port was identified as being able to provide facilities whilst being outside of a residential area.

But a representative from the  Gypsy and Traveller Coalition, who has been onsite several times, says there are basic needs that still need addressing for the whole site and the 17 children and 40 adults currently based there.

He has been asking Thanet council for additional standpipes – currently there are two – more toilets (separate male and female due to  cultural etiquette) showers, more bins – currently there is one -and also a move further back on the site due to people throwing rocks, fireworks and a metal bolt from the cliff top into the site.

He has also requested better screening and a site barrier.

These requests are being backed by Ramsgate county councillor Karen Constantine, district councillors Becky Wing, Tricia Austin, Mike Garner and Raushan Ara and Ramsgate Town Council’s Anne-Marie Nixey as well as Father McNally who looks after the community (all pictured above).

The representative said the council would be aware of the baby’s condition due to the duty to care out welfare checks.

He added: “There are concrete works at the back (of the site) meaning they are all breathing in dust and sand, it is not an appropriate place for sick children.

“Basic facilities are not being provided, there is supposed to be netting to stop people ooking in and taking pictures of the children. We need the council to move the site further back because o the fireworks, rocks and metal bolt being thrown from the cliff top. I feel the council is completely ignoring human rights issues and we have a human rights activist now actively involved to look at this.”

The rep said there are 17 authorised sites in Kent – 11 district council ones and six run by the county council – but all are full with long waiting lists.He said this, and the eradication of traditional stopping sites, is forcing people to stay on unsuitable areas.

There is now the threat of legal action against Thanet council on the basis of human rights breaches, says Cllr Constantine.

She said: “We, as county, district and town councillors, have asked for a site meeting with the council team but this has been refused.  We want the council to wake up and take these issues seriously. Wre want proper decency and consideration and a proper site. We want Thanet council to discharge their duties and provide proper facilities otherwise we will have no other option but to take it to the courts and that could involve substantial costs to the council.”

Any decision to take legal action would first have to go through the Gypsy and Traveller Coalition.

The little girl’s dad says that is not a move the family particularly wants to take but said that after the Magistrate at the court allowed them to be heard they were told facilities would be in place.

Health concerns raised over Port use as a temporary Traveller site Photo ‘concerned local’

A Thanet council spokesperson said facilities have been provided and more are due to be installed.

They said: “The temporary welfare site at the Port of Ramsgate’s lorry park complies with the court ruling and provides facilities that meet statutory requirements. The group also saw the site prior to moving there and agreed it was satisfactory.

“The council has provided two metre high screening to the site; three toilets (male, female and a disabled facility); a large bin and sufficient water supply. CCTV is also in place at the Port and on the clifftop which overlooks the site.

“In addition to our statutory requirements showers, which will be linked to the mains power supply, have been ordered and arrive on 30 June. Three more toilets have been ordered for the site and will be in place shortly. There is no requirement for a barrier at the site as the council has powers to prevent unauthorised access.

“Four welfare visits have already been carried out and officers from the council’s Community Team will be visiting again this afternoon. Providing there are no further concerns identified, welfare visits will be carried out weekly as well as regular telephone communication.

“Fines for breaching a Public Space Protection Order and Community Protection Notice were issued on 30 April and cancelled on 24 May. The refund request for one of the paid fines has also been issued.

“The Travellers are located on the only site available to us that can accommodate such a large group and provide the required welfare arrangements such as access to water and sanitation. The site is also outside of a residential area and causing as little disruption to commercial activity of the Port as possible.”

A Thanet council members’ briefing to update on the site issues is scheduled for next week.

Previous temporary site proposals

In December 2019 approval was given for work to assess Potten Street in St Nicholas-at-Wade, Tivoli Brook in Margate and Ramsgate Port for use as temporary tolerated stopping sites.

But both Ramsgate Port and Tivoli Brook were removed from the plans in July 2020. The proposal for Ramsgate Port was scrapped because it was “undergoing a feasibility study and the proposed area is in use for the storage of cars and is returning a revenue, it is also an industrialised area and not suited to families and young children.”

Thanet does not yet have an authorised site for Gypsy and Traveller use.

21 Comments

  1. Give them what they want and make the port a permanent site ,doni listen to ramsgate town council as they are against anything that happens down the port

      • ‘Free’ speech does not mean saying whatever you want about whoever you want with no regard to laws on libel and/or race and equality. As the publisher I am the one who is then made responsible for those comments and that means if there are racist/homophobic/slanderous or other comments that cross the line I will remove them. If you disagree with what someone is saying in an article, that is fine and you can of course comment with appropriate language. This site is ‘free’ for you to read but I have to pay to have it hosted and for the tools for it to be online as well as for my time that is spent interviewing/writing/publishing articles, attending meetings and all the other admin that goes with that. I run an independent, local business, it is not a ‘public’ service owned by a national or multi-national company.

  2. They choose this life style so why does everyone else have to pay. Pay your way and stop complaining about the choice you made

    • Was some in lido car park a while back and I saw a group of them walk the length of Northdown Rd steaming any shop they could… Then caused all the pubs in the area to shut down for several days… exemplary behaviour and a joy to accommodate, nay bend over backwards for. Freedom of information request to TDC to find out how much of our council tax it eats up.

  3. If we all adopted this life style – there would be no QEQM there would be no GOSH… and there would be no Thanet Council.

    As the parent of a poorly child I feel for the parents…and I wish them the best care we can give as a society and I wish the child a a speedy full recovery . I think those embracing this lifestyle need to realise they need to give back to society and not just expect to take take take. You can’t opt out of the parts of society you don’t like. Apart from apparently you can….

  4. I wonder what is so appealing about the UK for Irish travellers, I hear from friends whom have been Ireland is beautiful….

  5. She needs electricity for her child’s meds. Do they have free electricity wherever they pull up in unauthorised encampments? I doubt it, they use generators for it. Never satisfied with what is given them for free so allow them to leave Thanet and go elsewhere where they get it all. I wish I had everything for free but as I live in a conventional home that is not possible. Equality must work both ways!

  6. Both children are at risk and should be in care. What happened to Safefuarding. These kids are in foul conditions, no running water, no where to wash. Do they have any toilets…they cannot use the limited cassette toilets in the vans. The children are missing school and away from their permanent homes in southern Ireland. This Travelling is only for the Summer months whilst the Male breadwinners are working. Why are these poor kids treated this way, it is a cruel and inhuman.

  7. Wow! I am always shocked at the negative and nasty comments towards this group of people. The people in this group have a proud culture and a very rich heritage. Many of them have been in the Thanet area for more than 100 years, on and off, often working with the Sanger family building up Margate to be the tourist destination it now is. Nobody chooses which family, or which way of life, or which culture they are born into. Once we are born into a culture we all tend to adopt that as we are part of a larger kinship and culture which we live in and are used too. This group are amongst the nicest, kindest, most polite, and sincere people I have ever had the great fortune to meet. The fact that Thanet District Council has yet again failed, miserably, to meet its lawful duties is par for the course. The situation here is that these families need a safe base for a period of time and are legally and morally entitled to that. As for taxes – most pay taxes as we all do, when we buy goods and services, when we fill up our cars with petrol etc. The safety and well being of this community must be taken more seriously, in line with the laws of the land.

    As for the character that suggests these children be put into care – you frankly should be ashamed of yourself. All of the children are extremely well cared for and well loved.

    • I agree with most of your comments, but please tell me, who will pay for the water and electricity that is being used. If I want to use electricity I have to pay for it, and also for the water. Also, we All pay taxes for the things we purchase, so I dont really see your point there.

    • When you have had your dog stolen or your shop robbed or your pub shut down / smashed up or your grandparents scammed for a new roof / drive then you will understand. Deport.

  8. I don’t understand the comment about dust and sand from the concrete hatching sand. The site is surrounded by miles of sandy beach. There is sand all over the place.

  9. Cllr Karen Constantine, your remark on they helped make Margate what it is today, really if you think Margate is successful your are nose blind and as for the Sanger family you really need to read up on your history.

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