Travellers on why Surrey needs transit sites – and Surrey Police agrees
The calls come following an ‘unauthorised encampment’ at Newlands Corner
Calls that highlight the need for a temporary transit site in Surrey for families from the Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller (GRT) communities have been made after an “unauthorised encampment” was reported at a popular beauty spot near Guildford. It comes as the local authority said last week it was “working with police to resolve the issue as quickly as possible”.
A spokesperson for Surrey Gypsy Traveller Communities Forum (SGTCF) outlined that if Surrey had a transit site it would reduce the need for people to stop on the roadside and mean there would be a place to direct them if they did so. They claimed that if a site was made available it could be booked and paid for on a daily or weekly basis, though they also claimed police currently point out there is nowhere for people to move to.
“The need for a transit site has been discussed for years and people agree to the need for it but add ‘just not here’,” the SGTCF spokesperson said. “If we want people to get along better, it will make life easier for everyone if there are legal places for them to stop and stay.”
The spokesperson described a “serious accommodation problem” for people in the GRT communities and said this affects people who are both settled and who travel. They outlined: “Some people who are homeless travel in their caravans as their only home. Others travel for different reasons, such as to visit family, for education or health care, to go to a wedding or a funeral.”
Travelling is a part of GRT communities’ traditional way of life and is guaranteed by the Government as part of their heritage as ethnic minorities, but there is said to be no right to stop in traditional places in the county. The SGTCF spokesperson continued: “Surrey does not have any temporary stop sites which means that people on the road have to find places which may not be popular with local people.
“No one wants to pull up to a place where there may be anger, rejection, sometimes abuse, and the requirement to move on quickly. This is especially difficult when there is a crisis such as needing to visit a sick or dying relative, when a safe and legal place to stay would make life so much easier.”
A spokesperson for Surrey Police confirmed last Friday (March 10) that an “unauthorised encampment” remained at Newlands Corner after one was first reported a week earlier (March 3). The spokesperson added: “Surrey Police would support a proposed development in the county for a transit site as it is in the public’s interest to provide an additional option for dealing with encampments.”
There are more than 50 permanent sites across Surrey, according to Surrey County Council’s (SCC) website. The majority of these are said to be privately owned, while two are managed by Guildford Borough Council and 15 by SCC. The SCC sites total 113 plots and have a waiting list.
Council spokesperson Natalie Bramhall outlined work between the local authority and Surrey Police to approach unauthorised encampments and highlighted plans for a transit site in Tandridge. The cabinet member for property and waste said: “We are working with our district, borough, and Surrey Police partners to tackle the issue of unauthorised encampments across the county, that are often in unsuitable locations and cause local disruption.”
She added: “We have developed plans for a transit site in Tandridge that will help decrease the instances of unauthorised encampments, reduce conflict between communities, and give GRT families improved life chances by giving them better access to local services. The plans have strong support across Surrey.”
Looking for a GRT pitch/plot in Runnymede?, then read the flyer below, act quickly!
TRAVELLERS ADVICE HOTLINE TEL: 0121 685 8677
Or follow the link for more details (specialises in accommodation matters)
A large increase in Unauthorised Encampments in Surrey in recent years… As local authorities publish draft Local Plans, you can read their responses
TRAVELLER ADVICE SERVICE (story – defining Gypsies & Travellers to extinction)
THE TRAVELLER MOVEMENT PRESS RELEASE (Sept 2015)
“New planning rules forcing Gypsies & Travellers back on the road”
PR FINAL response to gov changes to Traveller definition Formatted 01092015
GOVERNMENT UPDATE TO UNAUTHORISED ENCAMPMENT POLICY
150326 Dealing with illegal and unauthorised encampments – final (1)
CLG GuidetoeffectiveuseofenforcementpowersPart1Unauthorisedencampments Feb 2006
CLG GuidetoeffectiveuseofenforcementpowersPart2Unauthorisedencampments Oct 2007
Planning Policy for Traveller Sites – August 2015
DCLG CARAVAN COUNT (June 2015)
GUIDELINES TO GYPSY/TRAVELLER SITE DESIGN
Borough Local Plans: – click on the following links to read letters from SGTCF to the borough planners of Guildford, Runnymede & Waverley in response to draft local plans
How will Local Authorities deliver site provision over the next five years, you can read a report by Friends, Families & Travellers (FFT) below:
THE HOUSE OF LORDS HEARS OF A BETTER WAY FORWARD REGARDING SITE PROVISION BASED ON THE EXPERIENCE OF GYPSIES IN LEEDS (FOLLOW THE LINK FOR MORE)
Any member of the Surrey GRT community seeking support for planning applications, is welcome to use this generic letter from the SGTCF forum.
HIGH COURT victory for action supported by the Community Law Partnership, against Eric Pickles Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (SSCLG). He was judged to have acted unlawfully by operating a policy of “recovering” for his own consideration, appeals by Travellers who claim there are exceptional circumstances for allowing them to remain on their sites in green belt land. Full details are available in the document above, headed Moore & Coates…
You can read a letter from the Chair (Darren Johnson AM) of the London Assembly housing committee to Mayor Boris Johnson regarding GRT site provision in London.
The above document entitled ‘Website links’ has a number of useful and current sources of information relating to planning matters