Contacting Parliamentary Committees regarding Planning Policy for Travellers sites and wider Gypsy and Traveller equality issues
The Women and Equalities Committee in Parliament are currently conducting a listening exercise to determine the committees future work. We are contacting Gypsy and Traveller organisations and individuals encouraging them to send a brief email to the Clerk of the Committee highlighting their concerns regarding the recent Government changes to Planning Policy for Traveller Sites and the wider inequality issues facing the UK’s Gypsies and Travellers. We also recommend people send the same request to the Communities and Local Government Committee who are also setting their priorities.
Below are the contact details of the Clerk’s for both Select Committees and a copy of the Traveller Movement’s email which we sent yesterday. The Women and Equalities Committee have already replied expressing an interest and we hope the Communities and Local Government Committee will do the same. The more communications they receive the more likely they are to look into them, so please do contact them if you can.
Please let me know if you do make contact and best to use the Clerk and General email addresses below.
Contacting Parliamentary Committees regarding Planning Policy for Travellers sites and wider Gypsy and Traveller equality issuesWomen and Equalities Committee
General email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Communities and Local Government Committee
General email: email@example.com
I am contacting you from the Traveller Movement, a national charity who address equality and discrimination issues experienced by Gypsies and Travellers in the UK. I understand that the Women and Equalities Committee is currently conducting a listening exercise to determine future work and would like to raise a key equalities issues relating to Government planning policy on Traveller sites.
Over the August Bank Holiday weekend the Government introduced new changes to Planning Policy for Traveller sites (PPTS), the planning guidance used by Local Planning Authorities and Inspectors to determine Traveller site applications. The new guidance redefines Gypsies and Travellers for the purposes of planning, resulting in community members who have stopped travelling, even for the reasons of old age, ill-health or disability, no longer being able to seek planning permission for a Traveller site.
In response to the Government consultation on the new changes the EHRC, National Police Chiefs Council and others expressed deep concerns that the proposals would have a disproportionate impact on Romany Gypsies’ and Irish Travellers’ ability to live in culturally appropriate accommodation, especially in respect of those who are elderly, children in education, the disabled and women. Both Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers are ethnic minorities protected under the Equalities Act.
The EHRC’s response to the Government consultation on the changes stated ‘that the proposed amendment would be inconsistent with the Government’s obligations under both domestic and international law in relation to the protection of minorities.’ With this in mind it’s worth noting that in January 2015 the DCLG Secretary of State was found by the High Court to have 'discriminated unlawfully against a racial group' by subjecting planning applications from Gypsies and Travellers in the Green Belt to special scrutiny. We are concerned that the recent changes to PPTS again poses the risk of discriminating against a group who already experience high levels of discrimination and inequality as evidences by the Coalition Government’s Ministerial Working Group on tackling inequalities experienced by Gypsies and Travellers.
The Traveller Movement (TM) believe the new measures will make it significantly harder for Gypsies and Travellers to obtain planning permission, adding to the existing chronic shortage of Traveller sites in England. We expect this in turn to result in many community members being forced onto the road, increasing numbers of unauthorised sites and damaging community cohesion; all issues which the new guidance apparently aims to improve.
We would be grateful if the Committee would consider including the recent Government changes to PPTS and wider inequality issues facing the UK’s Gypsies and Travellers in their future work. Please find attached briefing papers on the changes to PPTS and on Equality and Discrimination issues facing Gypsies and Travellers.
Tel: 0207 607 2002
The Traveller Movement
(formerly Irish Traveller Movement in Britain)
Resource for London, 356 Holloway Road
London, N7 6PA