Targets To Increase Gypsy and Travellers’ Pitches Condemned

"Communities should be saying how many they can provide not other way around"


Mayor To Double Number of Traveller Sites Across London

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Tony Arbour AM has condemned the targets for Gypsy and Travellers’ pitches imposed on boroughs by the latest draft of the Mayor’s London Plan.

Assembly Member for the South West of London, Mr Arbour said, “The whole idea of top-down pitch targets is completely wrong. It should be communities telling the Mayor how many pitches they can provide, not the other way around.

"The Mayor needs to stand-up for London and refuse to pass on the Government’s bureaucratic targets for new gypsy sites.

“Being forced to provide more gypsy and travellers’ pitches will place a massive financial burden on councils. It will cut the amount of land available on which to build new affordable homes, which are desperately needed to tackle London’s housing crisis.”

Boris Johnson announced plans to double the number of travellers' sites across London in over the next few years in May. The proposals, which are part of City Hall’s housing strategy, will see the number of sites in Ealing borough almost double rising from the current 36 to 64.

Hammersmith & Fulham currently have no sites for travellers but will have six by 2017 should the plans be implemented. Hounslow however, is one of the boroughs where a cut is proposed reducing the number of sites from 20 to 15. According to a report in the Standard, councils will have to decide whether to expand sites or build encampments. If they do not comply, they could be taken to court by the Government.

Boris Johnson argued that he had been forced to improve traveller accommodation by central Government meaning that nearly 800 caravan pitches will be created in the next eight years.

Freda Schicker, director of the London Gipsy Traveller unit, told the Standard, "We have people who have been waiting lists for years and years and can only get rented housing. We would prefer to see smaller new sites as they tend to raise the least objection, preferably near services and shops and on quiet roads."

October 13, 2009