The issues

Around a quarter of the UK’s 300,000 Gypsies and Travellers are technically homeless – they have no authorised place to live.

There aren’t enough Gypsy and Traveller sites to go around and there are fears that a new law could give communities greater power to reject planning applications in their local area.

Some Gypsies and Travellers say they have no choice but to set up home on land without planning permission.  People from the settled community say that’s not fair.

So, who should get priority?



We feel it’s an ethnic cleansing operation where people are being pushed off their own land.”Grattan Puxon, Dale Farm Residents Association

Grattan Puxon, Dale Farm Residents Association

Grattan Puxon, Dale Farm Residents Association

“If we didn’t enforce the law…residents would ask why is there one law for one group in the community and another law for another?” John Baron, MP for Basildon & Billericay

John Baron, MP for Basildon & Billericay

John Baron, MP for Basildon and Billericay





“We never had any friends, we never went to school because we was (sic) too busy moving, being shifted by the police every other day.” Nelson Grant, Traveller

Nelson Grant, Traveller

Nelson Grant, Traveller




“No one wants to have a Gypsy site in their neighbourhood…therefore as soon as you start looking at a particular piece of land, you generate a huge amount of opposition.” Lord Avebury, Liberal Democrat Peer

Lord Avebury, Liberal Democrat Peer

Lord Avebury, Liberal Democrat Peer




“It is a no-go area for a lot of politicians and ministers to touch on Gypsy and Traveller issues.”Matthew Brindley, Research & Policy Officer, Irish Traveller Movement for Britain

Children play outside their caravans at Dale Farm (copyright: Susan Craig-Greene)



3 responses to “The issues

  1. Mrs M Noakes

    I have friends who are affected adversely by the gipsy encampment at Dale Farm, and many people have taken their children out of the local school because of the influx of gipsy children. People have a right to live as they want, but their lifestyles must not be allowed to impinge on their locality and neighbours. The stealth of their approach into their occupation of what they call “their own land” must not be allowed to go unchallenged, because planning applications by other people in the neighbourhood are closely scrutinised and turned down if considered unsuitable. There has to be one rule for everyone to ensure fairness for all. The eviction must go ahead.

  2. CD

    They should not be forced to leave until an authorized site has been found elsewhere, otherwise their is no sustainable solution. It’s just passing the issues that face the settled community and the travellers elsewhere, each time costing tax payers a fortune. For what? If Dale Farm is too big then I can appreciate that point of view, but the residents have said they would leave peacefully if a suitable alternative was offered to them, they have already had one application nearby refused, where exactly do Basildon Council expect them to go? The cost, which could end up being £18 million would be better spent on local services and helping them to find somewhere that is suitable for long term occupancy.

  3. Mick

    Some questions :
    Would you restrict suspending the law to this specific aspect of planning and just to this group of people or would you want to see a wider selective application of the law ?
    Do you think it would be acceptable (and lawful) to allow an arrangement for travellers that would not be permitted for non-travellers ?
    If it’s ineffective central government policy over the past say 15 years that is the cause of insufficient sites (that’s my view) ,do you think it’s right that Basildon and the settled community of Crays Hill should by default be made responsible for filling the policy vacuum ?
    How long would you allow the search for an alternative site(s) to go on and where should the search take place ?
    Do you know of any local authorities who are likely to identify sites, say in the next 3 years ?
    Are you aware that central government has a register of surplus public sector land listing 776 separate parcels of land in the UK but have not take any initiative or responsibility for enabling these to be used temporarily for travellers whilst the new traveller site provision policy rolls out over the next 5 years ?
    Are you sure the travellers would move peacefully or do they have pre-conditions eg “we must all stay together”and “we want to own the land” ?
    Did you know that Richard Sheridan has said they would go peacefully if the council paid them £2m ?

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