New guidance issued on Friday by Local Government Secretary, Rt. Hon. Eric Pickles MP, outlining how local councils can push out unauthorised Gypsy and Traveller sites is in danger of inciting tension in local communities.
I find this targeting of Gypsies and Travellers unnecessary, particularly considering the recent public criticism Mr. Pickles’ colleagues in the Home Office have received as a result of their campaigns aimed at immigrants.
The statement that Mr. Pickles made on Friday contained no new information that is not already in the public domain, and I believe it is necessary to address the lack of capacity of authorised sites before targeting unauthorised sites in this way.
I support the London Gypsy and Traveller Unit in their work to ensure that capacity across London is adequate to meet demand, and I have written to Mr. Pickles and Mayor of London Boris Johnson calling on them to ensure there is enough capacity for traveller groups before targeting those people who live on unauthorised sites.