Travellers - Gypsy & Traveller Informal Scruitiny Group Report 2011

The Gypsy and Traveller Informal Scrutiny Group (ISG) made recommendations to Cabinet on reconciling the needs of gypsies and travellers with the expectations of the settled community. The following recommendations were agreed by the Overview and Scruitiny Committee and Cabinet:

1. That a commitment to undertake a Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) and a Travelling Showmen Accommodation Assessment (TSAA) be set out in a Core Strategy policy. The policy should include criteria for allocating sites and assessing planning applications.

2. That the above GTAA and TSAA should be carried out, working with neighbouring authorities.

3. That the principle of making suitable provision for gypsies and travellers (including permanent and transit sites) and travelling showmen, based on the assessed need, be supported, including:

a. Sites should be spread around the District with no over-concentration in any one location and be of a scale commensurate with the size of the settlement to avoid dominating the settled community or overloading services.

b. Sites should be located at an appropriate distance from the settled community which still allows access to services.

c. Sites should be suitably screened.

d. Sites must provide appropriate site facilities such as sanitation, services and waste management and room for storing equipment for Travelling Showmen.

4. That temporary planning permissions should be reviewed against the policy criteria: if sites meet the criteria, permissions may be extended or made permanent but if they are found not suitable, enforcement action should be prioritised (which should also help prevent new unauthorised sites becoming established).

5. That the enforcement process at Carousel Park, Micheldever be continued to make this site available for travelling showmen again.

6. That the Council should proactively work with travelling showmen to identify suitable sites for allocation where needed.

7. That further investigations and negotiations be undertaken with a view to possibly taking over Tynefield from Hampshire County Council and managing this site to improve its occupancy/capacity.

8. That Members of the ISG be invited to attend and make representations to the Cabinet (Local Development Framework) Committee when it considers the allocation of site(s) in detail, to share expertise acquired throughout the Review.

9. That the funding available for both revenue and capital costs of providing sites be investigated to establish the likely ongoing cost of site provision.

10. That Parish Councils be given the opportunity to be involved in identifying potential sites.

11. Guidance be sought from the Council's equalities consultant/group on ways to increase cultural awareness of gypsies and travellers with Members, Parish Councils and the wider community.

The Council will now work towards implementing the recommendations. These will give guidance to work on the LDF in developing the policy approach to gypsies and travellers, providing evidence of gypsy and traveller needs and criteria for assessing future gypsy and traveller sites, as well as making other recommendations to the City Council or its partners.

The ISG reviewed the issues faced by the gypsy and traveller community and by the settled community through a series of meetings at which representatives from different groups and service providers were asked to come and speak. This report draws together conclusions and recommendations made to Cabinet with the aim of reconciling the needs of gypsies and travellers with the expectations of the settled community.