Sharing a way to deal with gypsies

PUBLISHED: 12:03 10 February 2006 | UPDATED: 21:40 28 May 2010

FENLAND Council s reputation for building up a good understanding with travellers has been highlighted in a Government guide for local authorities. The council has recognised that taking enforcement action alone will not solve the problem of unauthorised

FENLAND Council's reputation for building up a good understanding with travellers has been highlighted in a Government guide for local authorities.

The council has recognised that taking enforcement action alone will not solve the problem of unauthorised camping and development which can cause tension in the local community.

As a consequence, travellers who are seeking to settle in the area are invited to discuss their development proposals with planning officers before submitting applications or buying land.

These officers, in turn, work closely with the council's Traveller Services Team.

This helps to build up trust between the council and travellers and reassures councillors and residents that the travellers are abiding by the same planning rules as everyone else, which helps reduce tension.

A recently-published booklet for councillors entitled Local Authorities and Gypsies and Travellers: a Guide to Responsibilities and Powers, uses this best practice by Fenland Council as a case study.

Fenland's traveller and diversity manager, David Bailey, said: "Creating and sustaining strong communities that work together is at the heart of the council's policies on gypsy and traveller issues, and has benefits for the settled and gypsy traveller communities alike.

"The council hopes that by sharing its work with others it will help them build good community relations."

Councillor Kit Owen, portfolio holder with responsibility for travellers, said that by being consistent and firm but fair, the council has been able to maintain a positive relationship with travellers.

"Objections to proposed new sites have been limited and we have been able to avoid any costly legal situations by working closely together," he added.

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