Published: 06:00, 23 October 2019
A leading voice for the Gypsy Council says the traveller community is treated like a "plague" and permanent sites are needed in Kent.
Director Joseph Jones claims they are excluded from society and left with little support from the district council in Thanet, leaving them with no choice but to set up camps on the sides of roads and at unauthorised sites.
Mr Jones is today due to meet with district planners and the owner of a piece of land behind Minster services, which is being earmarked as a potential spot for a permanent traveller site, for pre-planning application talks.
“This is brownfield land - it’s not AONB or greenbelt,” he said.
“I’ve had long discussions with the owners and they don’t seem to be able to do anything with it.”
Mr Jones says he feels the gypsy community has no choice but to take matters into their own hands.
“What we’re saying is enough is enough,” he said.
“We’re no longer going to rely on the council. We will find our own sites, provide the sites and we will manage them.
“We’re helping the council - this is at no cost to them or the taxpayer.
“There is no political will to help us so we have to help ourselves.
“We’re not a plague but we’re treated as a plague - we’re excluded from society and this is the result, that we have to do it ourselves.”
Thanet District Council, however, insists it is looking at how to help the traveller community, with seven permanent pitches and five transient outlined in its draft Local Plan.
In a document about provision, the authority says for many years there had been no need for such accommodation in the district.
“However, over the last two years, there has been an unprecedented and significant increase in unauthorised encampments and traveller activity, and particularly in the last year," it said.
“From January 2018 to September 2018, there was a total of 40 incursions in 15 different locations.”
The council says it has now indicated a need for permanent and transient pitches in its blueprint for future development.
“This need is driven entirely by the current and anticipated future needs of the groups that have been the subject of enforcement,” a spokesman said.
She added: “We have established an officer Task and Finish group and a member scrutiny group to look into unauthorised incursions, prevention of repeat incursions and longer term provision of sites.
“A report will be presented to the overview and scrutiny panel in November.”
More by this authorMarijke Hall