Leeds GATE

Working to improve the quality of life for Gypsies and Travellers

0113 240 2444

Crown Point House,
167-169 Cross Green Lane,
Leeds LS9 0BD

New faces, new opportunities

Ben Chastney's picture
By Ben Chastney |  May 26, 2015 |

New Leeds City council leader Coun Judith Blake (centre) with deputies Coun Lucinda Yeadon and Coun James Lewis
New Leeds City council leader Coun Judith Blake (centre) with deputies Coun Lucinda Yeadon and Coun James Lewis (Photo YEP)

The dust is settling following the recent election and new people are now moving into important roles, both at a local and national level.  Naturally some of these posts are of particular interest to Leeds GATE, namely those portfolios such as related to planning or communities, where their decisions may have a direct impact on the livelihoods of our members.  Decisions are now being made on who many of these people are and we are anxious to start working positively with them. 

GATE’s attitude towards those new in post, as with pretty much any issue, is one of constructive, pragmatic engagement.

Our interest remains achieving progress on our four key goals, on accommodation, health, social and economic issues, and we find that this is consistently best achieved through honest dialogue.  GATE is a member led organisation and so it is particularly important for us that members are involved, if not leading, this dialogue. Let us be realistic; some departments and their representatives have goals which differ, if not very clearly clash, with our own.  We cannot ignore also that some political rhetoric in the run up to the election, though perhaps less hostile than may have been feared, could not be considered particularly supportive of Gypsy and Traveller issues.  However, that does not mean that progress cannot be made and indeed there are reasons to be optimistic. Most importantly, and what GATE will be bringing to these various discussions, are various positive experiences and case studies to build upon.  The policy of Negotiated Stopping provides good strong evidence of a pragmatic policy which meets the interests of both the community and authorities when applied effectively. 

Similarly, Leeds GATE’s methodology for Accommodation Needs Assessments is something we will encourage new ministers and portfolio holders to consider. Naturally there will remain issues to which we will react in a challenging manner.  We will be honest and make clear from the outset that proposals with regards to the Human Rights Act and certain Welfare Reforms are likely to attract our strong opposition.  Even in such cases though, we will challenge in a fair manner and use evidence to lead our arguments.  We also hope that disagreeing profoundly on some issues does not preclude discussion and indeed progress elsewhere. So our offer to relevant new post holders, both local and national, with responsibility for Gypsy and Traveller issues, is the opportunity for open minded dialogue.  We will certainly push against what we feel are harmful policies and actively challenge the promotion and development of policies which have already proven effective.  GATE and its members want to work with others to help establish Gypsy and Traveller priorities and hopefully help realise some of these together.

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