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Council policy on Traveller issues

South Gloucestershire Council acknowledges that a nomadic existence is lawful and recognises that it is not a local authority’s role to either endorse or discourage such a lifestyle.

This does not mean however that people living a Traveller lifestyle should be able to do so without considering potential nuisance or harm that their lifestyle might inflict on others. Standards of behaviour expected of Gypsies and Travellers are the same as those expected of everybody else.

The council will review the provision of local authority Traveller sites and maintain and manage existing sites appropriately with the best use of resources and the involvement of Travellers living on the sites.

The council will seek to make easier the provision of private sites by providing advice and practical help with planning procedures to avoid breaches of planning control.

The council recognises that Gypsy and Traveller families can experience difficulty in gaining access to education, health and community services and will work to minimise these difficulties.

The council recognises its obligations under the Human Rights Act of 1998 and has adopted a clear human rights policy. In all decisions relating to Traveller issues the council will ensure full compliance with the act.

The council recognises that the majority of Travellers in its area are covered by the provisions of the Race Relations Act of 1976 and the Race Relations Amendment Act of 2001. Travellers represent one of the largest minority groups in the council’s area.

The council will strive to balance the interests of local people and the travelling population in the management of unauthorised encampments. In recognition that there is no provision of emergency stopping places or transit accommodation and that eviction can result in other unauthorised encampments in less suitable locations, every unauthorised encampment will be considered in relation to its individual circumstances. Consideration will be given to the provision of facilities as recommended in the Department of Environment circular 18/94.

The following criteria will be taken into account in reaching a decision on eviction of unauthorised encampments on council land;

  • public health and safety considerations including highway safety – obstruction or danger to road users as well as environmental and other dangers
  • whether this presence causes an unacceptable nuisance to nearby residents or businesses
  • whether the encampment prevents or seriously interferes with the use of the land for its normal purpose or imminent change of use
  • statutory obligations for the welfare of the families on the site
  • whether there are well reasoned grounds for believing that it cannot be managed effectively – for example size, composition or threatening behaviour to council staff or others by site residents
  • the council will not generally intervene in respect of encampments on privately owned land and would expect private landowners to deal with these in accordance with civil law
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