Gypsies and Travellers

***This page is currently under construction, and any content that is published is draft and is subject to change.***

‘Persons of nomadic habit of life whatever their race or origin, including such persons who on grounds only of their own or their family’s or dependants’ educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily, but excluding members of an organised group of Travelling Showpeople or circus people travelling together as such.’

In addition, Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (PPTS) 2015 provides the following ‘clarification’ for determining whether someone is a Gypsy or Traveller:
‘In determining whether persons are “gypsies and travellers” for the purposes of this planning policy, consideration should be given to the following issues amongst other relevant matters:
a) whether they previously led a nomadic habit of life;
b) the reasons for ceasing their nomadic habit of life;
c) whether there is an intention of living a nomadic habit of life in the future, and if so, how soon and in what circumstances.’

A glossary of the Gypsy and Traveller communities/populations can be found at the bottom of this page, under Definitions.

Headlines

The latest Traveller caravan count figures available are from the January 2018 Count of Traveller Caravans (England)[1], which nationally found that:

    • The total number of traveller caravans in England in January 2018 was 22,946. This is 1,026 more than the 21,920 reported in January 2017.
    • 6,924 caravans were on authorised socially rented sites. This is an increase of 141 since the January 2017 count, which recorded 6,783.
    • The number of caravans on authorised privately funded sites was 13,038. This was 822 more than the 12,216 recorded in January 2017. The number of caravans on authorised private sites has increased each year since 2008.
    • The number of caravans on unauthorised encampments on land owned by travellers was 2,179. This is an increase of 38 compared to the January 2017 figure of 2,141.
    • The number of caravans on unauthorised encampments on land not owned by travellers was 805. This was 25 caravans more than the January 2017 count of 780.
    • Overall, the January 2018 count indicated that 87 per cent of traveller caravans in England were on authorised land and that 13 per cent were on unauthorised land.

[1] Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) Count of Traveller Caravans January 2018 England, Housing Statistical Release June 2018

The Population

The 2011 Census identified a total of 93 households in Wakefield District with a ‘White: Gypsy or Irish Traveller’ ethnicity. Of these, 42 households lived in a caravan or other mobile or temporary structure and 51 households lived in bricks and mortar (house, bungalow, flat, maisonette or apartment).

The bi-annual Traveller Caravan Count indicates an average of around 102 Traveller caravans over the last seven counts. Of these, around 67% are on authorised social rented sites, 22% are on private sites and 11% are on unauthorised sites. The annual Travelling Showperson Caravan Count (undertaken each January) indicates an average of 63 Travelling Showperson caravans in the past five counts (2014-2018). Of these, around 93% are on authorised private sites and 7% are on unauthorised sites.

There is one authorised permanent council-owned Gypsy and Traveller site in Wakefield District. In addition, there are six authorised permanent private sites, four authorised temporary private sites, four unauthorised sites (with planning permission pending) and two additional unauthorised site.

The triangulation of secondary data, council records and fieldwork survey has identified a total of 59 existing Gypsy and Traveller households and 66 pitches across Wakefield District.

The figures for the last seven Traveller caravan counts for Wakefield District are set out in Table 4.2. This shows that an average of around 102 caravans have been recorded on sites across the Wakefield District area during the seven-count period. Of these, around 91 caravans (89%) are on authorised sites with planning permission. Of these, around 69 are on social-rented sites (67%) and 22 are on private sites (22%). An average of around 11 (11%) of recorded caravans are on unauthorised sites, without planning permission.

Whilst it is recognised that some families may not identify themselves as Gypsies or Travellers in research, the 2011 Census identifies a total of 93 households in Wakefield District as having a ‘White: Gypsy or Irish Traveller’ (WGoIT) ethnicity (Table 4.1a). Of these, 54.8% (51 households) lived in bricks and mortar accommodation (house or bungalow, or flat, maisonette or apartment) and 45.2% (42 households) lived in a caravan or other mobile or temporary structure.

Special tables were commissioned by Office for National Statistics (ONS) to cover the ethnicity and several data sets were produced and made available on the ONS website on the 21st January 2014. The main article can be found here.

The 2011 Census provides further information on actual residents and Table 4.1b provides details of the breakdown of people.

The Burden

Cultural Needs

The cultural needs of Gypsies and Travellers differ from those of the rest of the population and consideration of culturally specific requirements such as the need for additional permanent caravan sites and/or transit sites and/or stopping places (or improvements to existing sites) are key to this study. The research has therefore explicitly sought information from Gypsies and Travellers from across the area living in different types of accommodation.

There is a total need over the next five years (2018/19 to 2022/23) for 112 pitches in Wakefield District compared with a supply of 49 authorised pitches. The result is an overall cultural shortfall of 63 pitches.

Having established a substantial need for authorised pitches, the extent to which this need can be addressed through turnover, site expansion/intensification and regularisation (i.e. authorising sites) is now considered.

Over the next 5 years, there will be a need for 63 additional authorised Gypsy and Traveller Pitches. Taking into account turnover, potential development on existing sites and regularising non-authorised sites, 28 additional authorised pitches could be provided. This would reduce the 63 shortfall to 35 and the overall plan period need from 115 to 87.

Households moving through Wakefield District may require temporary accommodation which is usually provided through transit sites and stop-over places. Transit sites are intended for short-term use, are usually permanent and authorised, but there is a limit on the length of time residents can stay. A transit pitch normally has a hard standing, electric hook up and amenity shed. Stop-over places are usually unauthorised temporary camping areas tolerated by local authorities, used by Gypsies and Travellers for short-term encampments, and sometimes with the provision of temporary toilet facilities, water supplies and refuse collection services.

A good indicator of the need for transit/stop-over provision is unauthorised encampment activity. Over the period April 2014 to September 2018, a total of 309 incidences of unauthorised encampments have been recorded. Over this period:

  • The number of caravans on unauthorised encampments has ranged between 1 and 70;
  • The median number of caravans on an encampment has been 6 and mode (most frequently reported) has been 2 caravans; and
  • The number of days of encampment has tended to be low, with a median of 4 days and a mode (most frequently reported) of 1 day, but there have been incidences of longer encampments in excess of 20 days.
Traveller Movement Report

Whilst we do not have information for Wakefield, the following findings give a good indication of Gypsy and Traveller populations, and we can therefore assume that these are a good representation of these communities and their respective health.

A report by the Traveller Movement, commissioned by the National Inclusion Health Board (NIHB), looking at how the living conditions of Gypsies and Travellers lead to poor health. The report found that:

  • two-thirds of Gypsies and Travellers reported their health as bad, very bad or poor;
  • the living conditions of Gypsies and Travellers significantly contributes to their physical and mental health;
  • the poor health of Gypsies and Travellers is made worse by their living environment, accommodation insecurity and community discrimination, and
  • there needs to be closer partnership working across health and other interests to address these issues.

Source: Gov.uk

Comparison to Other Local Authorities

Comparing Wakefield to other LA’s and England.
The below table demonstrates the current position of Wakefield in relation to our Yorkshire and Humber neighbours against the following indicator: “The percentage of school children who are Gypsy/Roma“. Wakefield (0.18%) is currently 0.12% lower than the England average (0.30%).

Source: Public Health England

Service Provision

Publications

The Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960

Caravan Sites Act 1968 (Part II)

Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

Housing Act 2004

Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004

The Localism Act 2011

Statutory Instrument 2013 No 830 Town and Country planning Act, England (Temporary Stop Notice) (England) (Revocation) Regulations 2013

Section 124: Housing and Planning Act 2016

Fire safety tips for Gypsies and Travellers

Wakefield District Gypsy & Traveller Accommodation Assessment Update, October 2018

Definitions

Gypsies and Travellers

Defined by Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) Planning policy for traveller sites (PPTS) (August 2015) as “Persons of nomadic habit of life whatever their race or origin, including such persons who on grounds only of their own or their family’s or dependants’ educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily, but excluding members of an organised group of travelling showpeople or circus people travelling together as such”. The planning policy goes on to state that, “In determining whether persons are “gypsies and travellers” for the purposes of this planning policy, consideration should be given to the following issues amongst other relevant matters: a) whether they previously led a nomadic habit of life b) the reasons for ceasing their nomadic habit of life c) whether there is an intention of living a nomadic habit of life in the future, and if so, how soon and in what circumstances”.

Irish Traveller

Member of one of the main groups of Gypsies and Travellers in England. Irish Travellers have a distinct indigenous origin in Ireland and have been in England since the mid nineteenth century. They have been recognised as an ethnic group since August 2000 in England and Wales (O’Leary v Allied Domecq)”.

Mobile home

Legally a ‘caravan’ but not usually capable of being moved by towing.

Pitch

Area of land on a Gypsy/Traveller site occupied by one resident family; sometimes referred to as a plot, especially when referring to Travelling Showpeople. DCLG Planning policy for traveller sites (August 2015) states that For the purposes of this planning policy, “pitch” means a pitch on a “gypsy and traveller” site and “plot” means a pitch on a “travelling showpeople” site (often called a “yard”). This terminology differentiates between residential pitches for “gypsies and travellers” and mixed-use plots for “travelling showpeople”, which may / will need to incorporate space or to be split to allow for the storage of equipment”.

Plot

See pitch.

Romany

Member of one of the main groups of Gypsies and Travellers in England. Romany Gypsies trace their ethnic origin back to migrations, probably from India, taking place at intervals since before 1500. Gypsies have been a recognised ethnic group for the purposes of British race relations legislation since 1988 (CRE V Dutton).

Showpeople

Defined by Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) Planning policy for traveller sites (August 2015) as Members of a group organised for the purposes of holding fairs, circuses or shows (whether or not travelling together as such). This includes such persons who on the grounds of their own or their family’s or dependants’ more localised pattern of trading, educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily, but excludes Gypsies and Travellers as defined above.

Site

An area of land laid out and used for Gypsy/Traveller caravans; often though not always comprising slabs and amenity blocks or ‘sheds’. An authorised site will have planning permission. An unauthorised development lacks planning permission.