Tuesday, 28 February 2012

New Telephone Advice Line For Gypsies and Travellers

Community Legal Advice have decided not to renew the Telephone Advice Line for Gypsies and Travellers which is run by Community Law Partnership. The Community Law Partnership were part of the original pilot project for advice lines in April 2002 and have had the longest running national telephone helpline. Community Legal Advice claim that their Housing Providers will be able to provide the necessary advice to Gypsies and Travellers, even though the Community Law Partnership have pointed out that the law relating to Gypsies and Travellers is of a very specialist nature (e.g. planning law as it relates to Gypsy/Traveller sites).

Remembering the famous phrase “don’t agonise, organise”, Community Law Partnership have set up their own Telephone Advice Line for Gypsies and Travellers. community Law Partnership provides advice, assistance and representation on ‘accommodation issues’ for Gypsies and Travellers e.g. evictions, issues on rented sites, homelessness cases, High Court planning appeals, planning injunctions etc.

The new helpline is available Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm throughout England and Wales on 0121 685 8677. There is an emergency service available outside of those hours.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

New site for evicted Irish Travellers - Truro

From the BBC:

SEVEN caravans have moved onto a Cornwall Council car park after a Gypsy family were forced off a site just 1km away.

The unauthorised encampment has been set up on the Moresk car park off Oak Way, Truro.

Last week a Gypsy family [Irish Travellers not Gypsies], who had set up camp on land at Truro Recreation Ground at Kenwyn, were served with a notice to quit.

The former rugby pitch was recently loaned by Truro City Council to host youth football matches, which had to be stopped when the family moved in.

Roger Gazzard, clerk at Truro City Council, confirmed the Kenwyn sports pitch had been cleared of vehicles.

He added: "They have left it very clean and tidy. There is no damage and the rubbish was left all bagged up.

"It means we can basically carry on with matches now."

Cornwall Council said it and Devon and Cornwall Police would monitor the "unauthorised encampment" on the car park and "endeavour to move them on as soon as possible".

Inspector Mark Richards, of Truro police, said: "We have monitored the situation at both sites and look out for any criminality or community tensions – we are not currently aware of any.

"We can only monitor the situation and take guidance from the landowner.

"They are not breaking the law."

He said the five vans and seven caravans on the car park were linked to the group who were camping in Kenwyn.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Hopes for new Traveller sites - West Briton

From the West Briton

CORNWALL COUNCIL is monitoring a Travellers' camp near an engine house on the Great Flat Lode at Camborne.

The group, believed to be six people with five small caravans and a converted vehicle, arrived in June last year.

The council is currently considering the accommodation and welfare needs of the group.

"This group, along with all other unauthorised encampments on land owned by or responsible to Cornwall Council, is monitored as the council actively looks for land for authorised sites where basic amenities can be given, such as water and toilet facilities for which the occupiers will pay a rent," said a council spokesman.

It was announced last month that Carrick Housing, the arms-length management organisation which looks after the council's homes in the former Carrick district, has successfully bid for funding for the provision of new authorised Gypsy and Traveller sites.

Cornwall Council, along with every other local authority in the country, has a duty to provide suitable sites to meet the needs of its Gypsy and Traveller community.

Cornwall has a history of unauthorised encampments and a lack of regulated alternative sites to move people to. The council added: "This government funding has been made available to provide new sites to address the accommodation needs of our Gypsies and travellers.

"It is hoped that a network of small sites can be developed across Cornwall to meet existing needs and to address unauthorised encampments."

Daily Mail and St Merryn Locals Get It Wrong

From the Cornish Guardian:

RUMOURS that a man known as the King of the Gypsies had submitted a planning application to extend a St Merryn caravan site have been scotched after it emerged there had been a case of mistaken identity.

Concern was raised in the village after residents noticed that the name on the planning application to extend and improve facilities at Tregella Caravan Park tallied with that of the Romany Gypsy developer Noah Burton.

Mr Burton featured on BBC One's One Show and has been in the public eye for setting up an illegal camp in a village near Coventry.

However, both Mr Burton and his agent have strenuously denied any connection.

"I can in fact assure you that my client is a restaurateur from Leamington Spa," said David Bishton, the agent appointed by Mr Burton to oversee the application.

"We're only asking to increase the number of existing caravan sites from 30 to 36 and improve the facilities already in situ. We'd also like to carry out some landscaping to improve the look of the place.

"My client has no connection whatsoever to any illegal Gypsy sites."

Mr Burton, the applicant, who owns the Saint Bar and the Glass House Bar in Leamington Spa, said he was stunned to hear of the confusion.

"I've seen my namesake on TV," said Mr Burton.

"I've also had phone calls from the Daily Mail, who must have made the same mistake.

"I'm just looking to make the site at Tregella nicer so it'll be a pleasant place to come to for holidaymakers.

"I'm a restaurateur and I bought this site as a retirement project. I'd like to step away from the stress and strain of business, and running a caravan site in Cornwall is just so I can keep ticking over.

"I only want to increase the number of touring caravans that can stay by a small number. There's no question of there being any static caravans put here."

Mr Burton's planning application seeks permission to increase the number of touring caravan pitches from 30 to 36.

The application also includes proposals to replace the toilet block with a new toilet and laundry building, as well as the construction of an equipment store, extension of an access track and siting of a mobile home unit to house a warden and an office.

Nine pages of objections have been posted on Cornwall Council's online planning register since the application was submitted last September.

They cite fears that the proposals will increase traffic through the village and have a negative visual impact.

One resident who did not want to be named said the otters living in a nearby stream would be threatened if the development went ahead, but Mr Bishton denied this.

"The stream is some distance from the site and there would be no permanent impact on the area," he said.

"This is an existing site and I would have thought this would have been a very uncontentious issue. It really is a storm in a teacup."

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Planning officers look in favour of Gypsy caravan - St Blazey

From the Cornish Guardian:

PLANS for a Gypsy caravan to settle permanently on a designated wildlife site in St Blazey have been earmarked for approval by county planning chiefs.

The site at the Paddock, Carne Cross, near St Blazey – which will also include the building of a dayroom measuring six by six metres – will go before Cornwall Council's Central Sub-Area Planning Committee today.

Heard at County Hall, Truro, the planning application includes parking, room for turning and a play area and for the foul drainage to be discharged to a cesspool.

The site, at which its temporary planning permission granted in 2008 expired in August this year, is within an area believed to contain China clay, a council report said.

However, the plans have proved controversial, with Luxulyan Parish Council objecting on the grounds that a proportion of the land lies within a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation.

In its submissions to Cornwall Council, parish council chiefs said it wanted the application referred to the planning committee where it will be making further comments tonight.

Comments from Environmental Protection included: "As this is now going to be a permanent residential dwelling a contamination assessment should be submitted at the application stage, as this is a proposed use that will be particularly vulnerable or sensitive to the presence of contamination."

The site lies about two miles to the south east of Penwithick, close to the Eden project. Adjoining the site to the north and east are highways, and to the west and south is open land. It measures about 310sq m in total.

Case officer Gemma Halstead said in her report to the committee that the plans should be approved.

"The development is justified in the context of policies for Gypsies and Travellers and would contribute to meeting the need for sites.

"The site is not located within any landscape or character designations and the encroachment into the countryside is limited.

"The development is reasonably well located in relation to services and facilities. The scheme is therefore considered to comply with the advice contained."

However, the plans would be subject to a list of conditions if approved.

These include that the site shall not be occupied by any persons other than Gypsies and Travellers and the residential use shall be restricted to the stationing of no more than two caravans at any time.

Gypsy family can live at park permanently - St Columb

From the Cornish Guardian:

A GYPSY family has been given permission to set up home permanently on land near St Columb, despite opposition from the town council.

Tina Watson has been living at Mandalay Park, near Roserrans Farm, on a temporary basis since 2002.

But now the family, which includes Mrs Watson's two sons, daughter and six grandchildren, can officially call the site their home.

The news means they will be able to plan for the children's future and fully integrate into the community, according to a Cornwall Council liaison officer.

It is also hoped that the clean-living family will help turn negative preconceptions about Gypsies and Travellers on their head.

Members of the council's central sub-area planning committee voted unanimously to allow the family to use the park as a permanent address at a meeting last Wednesday (January 4).

The decision was made in spite of concerns raised by St Columb Town Council that the move represented overdevelopment of a rural area.

The site includes three mobile homes, two touring caravans and a day room.


In a report to the committee, a Gypsy and Traveller liaison officer said: "Mrs Tina Watson and her extended family are deserving of the above permission that will give a future to the school-age children and allow the family to plan in terms of their welfare, health and employment prospects knowing that they have a permanent address.

"Mrs Watson and her family have shown through their cleanliness and orderliness that far from being a blot on the landscape, which some mainstream people see as stereotypical in Gypsy and Traveller lifestyle, they have created a very high standard at Mandalay Park which can only enhance the rural area in which they live and also convince the local, settled community [of] the family's willingness and commitment to integrate and assimilate."

In the same report, planning officer Gemma Halstead said: "The application is recommended for approval as it is considered that there is a pressing need for more Gypsy sites and planning permission in this case would allow the site to make a contribution to meeting the need.

"The site is relatively well screened from the adjoining highway and although the development could not be said to protect and enhance the character and appearance of the area, it is considered that the harm is limited and localised."

Speaking at the meeting, Councillor John Fitter said: "It's a well-kept site. It's not intrusive into the area and I've no problem saying I will support this."

Green light for Travellers' plans for development - St Stephen

From the Cornish Guardian:

A FAMILY of Travellers from St Stephen say they are "absolutely thrilled" after being granted planning permission to build permanent structures, despite parish council objection.

Councillors unanimously passed the application at a Central Sub-Area Planning Committee meeting at County Hall in Truro on Wednesday.

The application proposed the building of two dayrooms including the relocation of a mobile home and the re-use of a redundant septic tank on the Peneden Long Lane High Street site.

The applicants, husband and wife Roy and Kay Meaden, were present at the meeting.

Mr Meaden said to the committee: "It's for me and my family. It would provide us with better facilities, utility use, as well as a bathroom.

"My eldest daughter is at Brannel School at the moment and will be leaving this year. She wants to attend college. This will provide her with a place to study and it will also benefit my other children."

St Stephen-in-Brannel Parish Council were not present at the meeting due to a full parish council meeting on the same night, but had previously voiced their objections.

After the meeting, parish council chairman Kim Wonnacott said: "The original application was granted on the grounds that any structures put in that location could be removed.

"There's a policy against development in the countryside. If an application wants to build a house in a field it would be turned down under that policy.

"Our objection was purely on policy. Years ago there had been a structure put up in that location by a different owner – a barn for animals – but because there was no planning permission for it there was enforcement and it had to be removed.

"It's extremely difficult. The site is immaculate. There's nothing wrong with it. It's just that development should not take place on that site as it is a rural location, which was previously used as grazing land."

Mrs Meaden said after the meeting that they were delighted with the outcome.

"We are just over the moon. We can't believe it. We don't know when we are going to start construction but we're absolutely thrilled," she said.

"We just want the best for our kids – a better start in life than what we had. It hasn't sunk in yet."

The site previously only had planning permission for two static caravans which can only be occupied by Gypsies and Travellers.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Porrajmos: the Untold Story of the Gypsy Holocaust

The Nazis killed between a quarter and a third of all Gypsies living in Europe
No Gypsy people were called to give evidence at the Nuremburg Trials
Most Gypsy survivors have not been compensated for the atrocities against them
In 1982 Germany officially acknowledged that there had been a deliberate policy to eliminate Gypsies
There is still widespread persecution of Gypsies in Europe today

Plymouth & Devon Racial Equality Council launched their new film Porrajmos: the Untold Story of the Gypsy Holocaust on Thursday 26th January 2012 on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day.

The film was made by PDREC's Gypsy/Traveller Community Worker with two Romany women, and the support of Devon's Gypsy Roma Traveller Achievement Service and a young film maker.

The film follows the journey of one Romany woman who goes to Auschwitz to find out what happened to Gypsy/Roma people during the Second World War. The film also looks at the language of hatred used about Gypsies in Nazi Germany and draws attention to the language used about Gypsies in Britain today.

The film is 16 minutes long and is designed for use in Secondary Schools. It is relevant to many of the subjects taught in schools including RE, History, Citizenship, PHSE and English.

The film will be released in March 2012. If any schools would like to use this resource, please contact Penny Dane, Community Development Worker, Plymouth & Devon Racial Equality Council, 14 York Rd, Exeter EX4 6BA. Email: penny@devonrec.org Tel: 07979 838138

Friday, 3 February 2012

Matches Needlessly Called off as Travellers Park by Truro Pitch

From This is Cornwall:

YOUTH football matches had to be cancelled on Sunday after a family of Travellers moved on to a recently revamped pitch.

Truro City Council has leased the former rugby pitch at Kenwyn from Cornwall Council and spent more than £2,000 replacing the rugby posts with Football Association standard goals and facilities for youth games.

But matches on Sunday had to be cancelled after a Roma family [in fact Irish Travellers not Roma] moved on to the site at the end of last week.

Truro mayor and Cornwall Council member for Kenwyn Rob Nolan said two vans initially arrived on Thursday evening.

He said: "Somehow the chain and lock on the gates at the entrance to the pitch had been broken, apparently before they arrived.

"They said they would only be there for a couple of days but more have arrived. The police think they might be there for a month or two.

"We have spent a couple of thousand pounds sorting out the land for youth football and now we have had to cancel one of the first matches.

"It's more than a nuisance. A lot of money has been invested up there for the community."

Truro council hoped the newly enhanced pitch would help meet growing demand for facilities in the city, as well as relieve the frequently water-logged Boscawen Park in wet weather.

Parks manager, Richard Budge, said the Travellers have not used the field and are parked on the hard-standing.

"They are blocking the access to the facilities up there," he said. "We felt it was inappropriate to put people in a position where they had to negotiate with them to use the facilities and thought it best in the situation to cancel the games."

Mr Nolan said Gypsy liaison co-ordinators at Cornwall Council had issued the Travellers with a behaviour plan.

Truro police's Inspector Mark Richards said: "We will no doubt be discussing a way forward over the coming days."

A statement from Cornwall Council said: "The council and the police will endeavour to move them on as soon as possible."