'Protect gypsy and traveller rights' - Assembly

10 December 2014

The Mayor of London should lobby the Government to ensure that gypsies and travellers continue to have their rights legally protected, even when they move into fixed accommodation.

The London Assembly approved a motion calling on the Mayor to write to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to ask them to drop their plans to remove the legal protections.

The Assembly believes such moves to be against human right laws and could mean ‘councils will not have to build the pitches… needed to sustain this culture and way of life’.

Tom Copley AM, who proposed the motion, said:

“Whilst the London Assembly's Housing Committee is working to find ways of increasing provision of Gypsy & Traveller sites, the Secretary of State for Communities is attempting to remove fundamental rights from one of the most marginalised communities in Britain.

“It is difficult to see how his proposals will stand the test of challenge under equalities and human rights legislation. But one thing is clear - his ill-considered plans are in danger of stoking up prejudice towards an already discriminated against and marginalised community. Perhaps Eric Pickles sees Gypsies & Travellers as an easy target.”

The full text of the motion is:

“This Assembly notes the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) consultation on planning and Travellers and further notes the proposal to treat Gypsies and Travellers who moved into fixed accommodation as having given up their traveller status.

“This Assembly believes that this is incompatible with equalities and human rights laws, and incompatible with the positive steps that some local authorities have taken in recent years to help meet the needs of these communities for secure sites and support. The effect of it will be to undercount those who identify as travellers, meaning councils will not have to build the pitches that are needed to sustain this culture and way of life.

“Though the DCLG’s consultation deadline has passed, this Assembly calls on the Mayor – given his obligations under London Plan Policy 3.8B(i)[1] – to write to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government urging him to drop the proposals regarding the relationship between occupancy and traveller status.”

Notes to editors:

London Plan Policy 3.8B(i): “boroughs should work with the Mayor and local communities to identify the range of needs likely to arise within their areas and ensure that…the accommodation requirements of gypsies and travellers (including travelling show people) are identified and addressed”

The motion was agreed by 12 votes for to 5 against at a meeting of the full Assembly.

Watch the webcast.

Tom Copley AM who proposed the motion is available for interviews. Please see contact details below.

As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For more details, please contact Ash Singleton in the Assembly Media Office on 020 7983 5769. For out-of-hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit, Greater London Authority, on 020 7983 4100.