Planning reforms will NOT make gypsy camps easier

Hat tip to Conservative Home for pointing out one of the flaws in The Daily Telegraph's campaign against the Government's planning reforms, specifically the claim that they would make it harder for local councils to stop traveller sites being established.

Not so says Bob Neill, Minister for Local Government:

"Top-down targets for traveller sites undermined local discretion and turned a blind eye to unauthorised development, harming community cohesion. The Coalition Government is scrapping the previous Government's planning rules on traveller sites and issuing explicit new planning guidance which increases protection of the Green Belt and open countryside. Stronger weight is being given to protection of local amenity and the local environment. And through the Localism Bill, councils are being given tougher enforcement powers to tackle the abuse of the system."

Localism means councils choosing whether or not to allow these sites. To say it means a "new legal route" to have them paints a rather one-sided picture. Councils may choose to allow more of them. But those who don't so choose will not be forced to.


Tim said…
Maybe consideration will be given to making these sites much harder to obtain. I for one am heartily sick of a minority of leeches who decide what laws they will obey and those that they will ignore. Does anyone know why they are called travellers ? They don't seem to travel anywhere.
Chris Whiteside said…
I believe "travellers" is a title they have given themselves.

I am a firm believer that we should get as close as we practically can to the the principle that the same law applyies to everyone.

There are indeed some people who seem to think they can decide which laws to obey and which laws to ignore, and whether they call themselves "travellers" or "politicians" the rest of society needs to make clear to them that this is unacceptable.
Anonymous said…
travellers have been around for generations. there part of our history.they have just as much right to live true to there culture as any culture.I am disheartened to see that people can show such hate for people they probley never met.dont beleave all you read in the media.innocent untill proven guilty.these people get a lot of stick for being different in this day and age. isent the world made of different cultures we should be more flexable in our oppinions.
Chris Whiteside said…
My views on travellers are based on direct personal experience and not from the media.

I know from that personal experience that some travellers are decent people who bear no resemblance to the tabloid stereotype while others are every bit as bad as that stereotype makes out.

On one occasion as a councillor I voted to give planning permission for a gypsy encampment, in spite of the fact that this would and did make me very unpopular with some of the neighbours - "I hope your coffee chokes you" - was one of the milder comments - because it seemed the right thing to do for several reasons, including the fact that the travellers who had bought and applied for permission to site seven mobile homes on the relevant land were making some effort to respect the countryside in the area concerned.

But I've also seen with my own eyes areas which have been desecrated by other groups of so-called travellers. I saw how a site of local scientific interest in my ward was treated by one group of "travellers."

Most readers of this blog, and the people who paid taxes to maintain that site, would be prosecuted for bringing even a car, never mind a heavy vehicle, onto the site in question, but these people think they're above the law. They churned it up with caravans and heavy vehicles, and they dumped excrement and other refuse on land which is public parkland where children play. It cost a fortune to clear it up and make the area safe when they had gone.

Would you defend the way Hitler treated both Jews and Gypsies because it was "true to the culture" of Nazi germany?

Of course not. And that point cuts both ways.

Those groups of travellers - and there are plenty of them - who are willing to treat other groups with respect and obey the law of the land should receive the same respect in turn and enjoy the protection of that same law.

Anyone who does not obey the law should, after due process, be treated the same as any other criminal.

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