There are estimated to be 300,000 gypsies and travellers in Britain – with a quarter of them living in caravans without legal sites. The Government is to revoke planning circulars issued under Labour which forced Councils to compulsorily purchase land for provide sites. Instead there will be incentives for Councils which choose to provide sites. The Government will also look at ways of increasing powers for local authorities to evict those on unauthorised encampments. Repealing the Human Rights Act would help – but this election pledge has had to be ditched to accomodate the Lib Dems, who represent the left of the Coalition Government, and Ken Clarke, who represents the coalition's hard left.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles says:
"Unauthorised developments have created tensions between travellers and the settled population. We want to redress the balance and put fairness back into communities.
"Like the rest of the population, the majority of travellers are law-abiding citizens and they should have the same chance of having a safe place to live and bring up their children.
"These changes will put travellers who play by the rules on an equal footing. But at the same time, we will not sit back and allow people to bypass the planning rules that everyone else has to abide by.
"That's why we will strengthen the powers that councils have to enforce against breaches of planning rules and tackle the abuse of the planning system."