Traveller crisis: Harlow Council respond to proposed changes by government

Politics / Mon 24th Nov 2014 at 12:11pm

HARLOW Council has responded to the Government’s call for views on proposed changes to planning policy and guidance for Traveller sites.

The Government in recognising the need to address the issues associated with Travellers occupying land to create unauthorised and illegal encampments launched a consultation in September 2014 in respect of the planning powers available.

Harlow Council believes that this consultation, whilst welcome, does not deal with the broader issues that have been creating problems in Harlow. As a result the Council has not only responded to the planning consultation but provided supporting proposals dealing with the balance to be struck between the settled and non-settled community, the duties to be placed upon Councils to make provision for Travellers and the powers that should be available to Councils to address the issues caused by persistent unauthorised encampments.

Since October 2013 there have been 80 different unauthorised Traveller encampments in Harlow.

Councillor Jon Clempner, Leader of Harlow Council, said: “The Council recognises that the law to enable communities to deal with unauthorised and illegal encampments needs to change. Rather than just deal with the narrow planning approach the Government has sought to consult on, the Council has provided practical ways in which the law can be changed to protect both the rights of the settled and non-settled communities. The Council hopes that the Government will act upon these suggestions so that communities like Harlow do not have to continue to suffer from the inadequacies of the law.

“The Council continues to do all that it can within the existing law. Clearly when Travellers can merely move from one piece of land to another within Harlow the law is inadequate. It is imperative that the Government finds Parliamentary time to enact the changes in the law required. The Council hopes that the Government will support Harlow, and other communities, in dealing with this important issue.”

A copy of Harlow Council’s consultation response can be viewed by following this link: www.harlow.gov.uk/illegal-encampments#response

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