Councils looking for land for Gypsy and Traveller transit site.

Politics / Mon 21st Dec 2015 at 05:34pm

​ESSEX County Council is looking for land to build a Gypsy and Traveller transit site to help combat the problem of unauthorised encampments in Essex.

In the last two years there has been a 57 per cent increase in unauthorised encampments, which can cost Essex County Council over £1,000 per encampment to manage.

This does not include the repeated unauthorised encampments in Harlow which led to Harlow District and Essex County Councils issuing a joint injunction preventing specific Travellers from setting up camp on verges and roadsides around the town.

Cllr Roger Hirst, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Transport, Planning and Environment, said: “A transit site should help to reduce the problem caused to communities and authorities by unauthorised encampments.

“It makes it easier for authorities to manage the encampments. They are also safer for the Traveller and Gypsy community and make it easier to address any welfare requirements they may have.”

The plan to build a transit site in Essex is supported by Essex Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “I warmly welcome the fact that Essex County Council is looking to build a transit site for gypsies and travellers. There is a chronic under-provision of Traveller sites across Essex with not one single transit site in our county. As a result we have persistently seen travellers setting up unauthorised encampments around the county, often to the frustration and distress of local residents and sometimes at the expense of local taxpayers if damage or mess is caused.

“A transit site would not only provide a managed and appropriate area for travellers passing through, its existence would also afford police greater legal powers (under Section 62 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994) to immediately move any unauthorised encampment to the transit site.”

The Council is looking for land with good access to major road networks.

Last year the Essex Planning Officers Association recommended two geographically dispersed transit sites should be built in Essex in their Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessment (GTAA).

A transit site would be managed by Essex County Council and would be subject to rent and utility charges.

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