North Ayrshire Council has outlined its powers and responsibilities when working with Gypsies and Travellers who camp in the area.
local authority’s ruling SNP Cabinet last week agreed to create a new
post, on a temporary basis, which will have the specific remit of
working with unauthorised encampments to minimise any issues that might
Cllr Ruth Maguire, SNP Cabinet Member for Housing, said,
“The new policy agreed by the Cabinet highlights the Council’s legal
obligation to support Travellers, particularly in terms of education and
social care, and makes Travellers aware of their responsibilities.
policy explains what the Council can and cannot do when an unauthorised
camp is formed. Legally, Travellers are a protected minority group and
public agencies have a duty to ensure there is no discrimination and
that the Traveller culture is respected.
“The Council only has
the right to evict travellers from Council land in very rare
circumstances – generally where there is a clear risk to public health
or evidence of disorder. However, the genuine concerns of residents and
businesses regarding the setting up of unauthorised encampments must be
recognised and respected.”
Cllr Maguire noted, “Unlike their
public equivalents, private landowners do have recourse to the law
through the eviction process. The Council provides support for private
landowners in this situation and will consider how best to develop and
take this forward.”
The newly-agreed policy covers a range of
issues, including the Council’s response to unauthorised encampments on
both public and private land, response to local residents’ enquiries and
complaints, determination of exceptional circumstances that warrant
eviction from Council land, and support for landowners to minimise
issues relating to unauthorised encampments.