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Concerns raised over 'unsanitary' conditions of traveller site at Ramsgate Port as families fall ill

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Serious concerns are being raised over the 'unsanitary and inhumane' conditions of a traveller site where families are falling ill with sickness and diarrhoea.

Worried councillors say portable loos at the site near Ramsgate port are being left unemptied for weeks, overflowing bins are not collected and children have to walk miles to find somewhere to wash.

The site by the Port of Ramsgate where the Pavee traveller families have been since last May
The site by the Port of Ramsgate where the Pavee traveller families have been since last May

The two Pavee traveller families have been there since last May, after Margate Magistrates' Court ordered Thanet District Council to provide a site and facilities for them.

This was done on welfare grounds due to the ill health of a baby, who tragically died, and a little girl.

Since then, despite the port being an agreed stopping point, several unsuccessful eviction attempts have been made by Thanet council.

A judicial review has now been lodged on behalf of the Pavee families relating to human rights breaches regarding the treatment of the travellers living at the site.

Labour county councillor for Ramsgate Karen Constantine says the situation at the port - where there are just five portable toilets for some 70 people - is awful.

The site by the Port of Ramsgate where the Pavee traveller families have been since last May
The site by the Port of Ramsgate where the Pavee traveller families have been since last May

"It's not anything of a proper site," she said. "TDC were told to provide adequate sanitation under public health and they're not doing that.

"I was down there a few weeks ago, there were five portable loos for 70 people. They are getting ill. It's really bad.

"There were seven toilets at one stage. One of the toilets wasn't emptied for many, many weeks and now I'm hearing that two toilets are full up and haven't been emptied for two weeks."

Cllr Constantine says some of the members of the families are settled there, with children at school and some access to healthcare, but that the facilities are substandard.

She says herself, Ramsgate district councillor Becky Wing and Mayor of Ramsgate Cllr Raushan Ara have been pushing both Thanet council and Kent County Council, which is responsible for public health, to do something.

Families claim Portaloos are being left unemptied for weeks
Families claim Portaloos are being left unemptied for weeks

"A few weeks ago I had a meeting with the new director of public health at KCC, Anjan Ghosh. He promised he would look into this," said Cllr Constantine.

"All we need to do is get people with the sufficient responsibilities around a table to discuss what is best for these families. Health needs are high at the site and these people need to be supported.

"We've been asking for TDC to do the decent thing, simply to put in adequate services, portable loos and showers.

"This is basic human rights. They should be kept safe and treated equally.

"In the storm, the kids were kept in cars overnight because the caravans weren't safe. It's really a litany of failures by public bodies.

Families say bins are being left unemptied, too
Families say bins are being left unemptied, too

"Why, after a year, are we still fighting for basic provisions and for portable loos to be emptied?"

Cllr Becky Wing, who represents central harbour ward on the district council for the Green Party, said in an email to both TDC and the county council that she went to the site after receiving a distressing call.

"Many adults and children are suffering diarrhoea and sickness because the few toilets they have, have not been emptied for two weeks and neither have the waste bins," she said.

"I am at a total loss as to how to proceed given our requests for appropriate facilities are simply constantly ignored.

"Heaven forbid that something serious should happen, then those with the actual power to take action to improve living conditions for families, including women and children, some of whom have existing medical conditions and therefore have increased vulnerabilities, can not say they 'were not aware of the situation'.

"I believe this is a public health issue that warrants action."

A spokesman for Thanet District Council said: "The council is ensuring the continued provision of adequate facilities for the two authorised families. This includes multiple toilets, shower facilities as well as a number of rubbish bins.

"The council-provided portable loos are emptied weekly, but are frequently blocked by flushed nappies and wipes. This in turn causes blockages in the equipment that is used in the emptying process.

"On these occasions, the contractor’s team must return to their depot to clear the blockages in the equipment which causes further delays in their schedule.

"There is currently one portable loo on site that has not been provided by the council, however we have agreed with the supplier to fund the weekly emptying.

"Waste bins are emptied on a weekly basis, but must be placed near the entrance of the site for the waste crew to access them safely, and this is not always done.

"There is an application for judicial review of the council’s decision to apply to the court for an eviction order.

"The hearing of that judicial review will take place on June 28 and the eviction is on hold until the outcome of the judicial review application."

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