‘Gypsies and Travellers have far more to fear’

Field between Holly Road and Hassell Road in Skegness.

Field between Holly Road and Hassell Road in Skegness.

‘Gypsies and Travellers have far more to fear from the settled community than is the case vice versa’.

This is the reaction from an organisation representing those communities after concerns were raised over eight potential Traveller and Gypsy sites, including one in Skegness (on land between Hassall Road and Holly Road) identified by East Lindsey District Council.

Councillors expressed their anger after the sites were announced at Thursday’s ELDC planning policy committee meeting.

However, Shay Clipson, chairman of National Alliance of Gypsy Traveller & Roma Women, later told the Skegness Standard she was ‘deeply alarmed and concerned’ regarding some of the comments.

She said: “I feel that I must remind ELDC and its councillors and officers of their public sector duties under the Equalities Act 2010 to ‘foster good relations between people who share protected characteristics and people who do not share it’. The local authority needs to meet their obligations in relation to Gypsies and Travellers.

“The need for additional pitches has clearly been identified and they must meet that in realistic terms.

“There is little point locating provision in an area where it simply will not be used. For Gypsies and Travellers on short stays in the area we recommend the use of ‘negotiated stopping places’.

“There is no reason why provision for Gypsies and Travellers should cause any problems for local people at all, and I am more than happy to liaise with ELDC to help ensure that things go as smoothly as possible for all concerned.

“I think this is a good time to draw attention to what is sadly a fact, and that is that Gypsies and Travellers have far more to fear from the settled community than is the case vice versa. One of the reasons why Gypsies and Travellers travel in larger numbers these days is in regard to fears for their own safety.”

In drawing up a new Local Plan, ELDC needs to find provision for Travellers and Gypsies.

On Thursday councillors were told by officers: “It is not an option to carry on putting it into the ‘too difficult’ box.”