New approach to roadside camps would save money and lead to fewer legal fights


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Authorities in London should take the fresh approach of negotiated stopping to better manage roadside camps for Gypsy and Travellers, according to new research.

Campaigners say that using this method – where local authorities and landowners work with Gypsies and Travellers to find sites suitable for all parties – is an alternative to evictions, injunctions and criminalisation of people looking for temporary sites.

Agreements can vary from two weeks to several months but includes Travellers agreeing to leave sites clean and the council providing facilities and waste disposal.

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De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) Professor Jo Richardson, Professor of Housing and Social Inclusion, worked with the London Gypsies and Travellers (LGT) organisation and the Mayor of London’s office on a report into negotiated stopping and how it could work.

Professor Richardson argues that using this could improve community relations and save public money.

London Gypsies and Travellers said that the report gives them a blueprint for working with councils in the boroughs across London.

Professor Richardson was the principal investigator at DMU, working with research assistant and DMU PhD student Lauren Wilson. They reviewed policy, devised an online survey, facilitated focus groups and interviews – in order to identify the key ingredients for a successful negotiated stopping approach in London. They were: political vision, decent conditions for roadside families, a planned approach to temporary stopping, trust and partnership between Traveller families and authorities, a coordinated pan-London approach, and a clear separation of large-scale fly tipping issues from roadside stopping.

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Professor Richardson said: “It has been a privilege to work with London Gypsies and Travellers on this research. We know that there is an alternative to the disruptive cycle of injunction and eviction for those seeking to find accommodation, hoping to maintain their traditional habit of life and to be part of our communities.

“It is hoped that the examples and ideas from the research findings will be useful to civic leaders in taking the next step towards a negotiated approach.”

Stopping pi

It comes as increasing numbers of councils are seeking High Court injunctions against roadside camps.

“This report couldn’t be more timely, as it follows our legal challenge to council injunctions which took place on 3 December. Another very significant issue is the Home Office consultation on criminalising trespass and increasing police powers to evict,” says Ilinca Diaconescu, LGT’s Policy Officer.

“The report brings tangible alternatives to evictions, injunctions and criminalisation. The research we have conducted has identified the factors that can make negotiated stopping a successful and effective alternative, and we can work with councils on achieving this.”

“This research is a significant step forward in understanding how councils and other public services can help address the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers and facilitate their nomadic way of life,” added Debby Kennett, LGT Chief Executive. “It has the potential to change public narratives about roadside camps and help build inclusive neighbourhoods where Gypsy and Traveller families are welcomed.”

* Download the report here 

Posted on Thursday 19th December 2019

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