Increased number of travellers in the borough shows desperate need for more authorised sites says Redbridge charity

Travellers in The Valentine pub car park. Picture Ken Mears.

Travellers in The Valentine pub car park. Picture Ken Mears. - Credit: Archant

A charity has called for “empathy and positive dialogue” after travellers set up camps at several locations in Redbridge.

Redbridge Equalities and Community Council (RECC) said the increased presence in the borough shows the desperate need for more authorised sites for travellers.

“From the late 60s up to 1994 local authorities had a duty to provide sites for travellers,” said RECC’s David Landau, who sits on the board of the Gypsy Council.

“The law was changed and travellers were encouraged to buy their own land.

“Saving up for that was hard enough but when they bought land they then found it impossible to get planning permission.”

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Mr Landau said this needs to be changed and we should look to other initiatives that have worked well in the community for inspiration.

“In Leeds they have experimented with a temporary stop place,” he added.

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“This has proved a great success and there is now far less conflict between the traveller and settled communities there.”

He explained that creating temporary traveller pitches would alleviate tension in the community and avoid “additional resources” being needed each time travellers leave a site.

Sue Mutter, who has worked with Roma people and travellers in the borough and has recently joined the RECC, said summer is traditionally the moving season for many travellers.

“Traveller families have historically used this time to travel for work, to family and friends and Redbridge has always acknowledged this lifestyle,” she said.

“With empathy and positive dialogue families have moved on.

“Perhaps it is time to trial the Leeds model of negotiated stopping on an identified temporary stopping place and so avoids the tension and additional resources needed each time travelling families stop and pass through Redbridge.

The former Valentine Pub in Gants Hill, the former Doctor Johnson pub in Clayhall, and a Tesco Extra car park in Goodmayes has seen new arrivals pitch up in the last two weeks.

All of the sites are on private land and Redbridge Council has no power to get involved.

Residents have contacted the Recorder to express concern about the camps.

They are worried about the amount of rubbish left behind and sanitary conditions.

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