Leeds GATE

Working to improve the quality of life for Gypsies and Travellers

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One step forward, two steps backward?

Helen Jones's picture
By Helen Jones |  July 24, 2013 |

The Yorkshire Evening Post is reporting comments this week from a senior elected member suggesting a return to draconian measures against Gypsies and Travellers living in 'sensitive' areas of Leeds.  Cllr Peter Gruen dismisses suggestions court proceedings may be a waste of money,  “I think it’s money well spent because it sends a message that we are not going to mess about".  Cllr Gruen's statement that “They are no part of Leeds and those are the people you do want to clamp down on. We are not just a northern magnet for travellers.” is disappointing to say the least. It's impossible not to wonder how that comment would sound if being used to describe any other ethnic group of people. You can read the full article here.

It is to be hoped, for everyone's sake, that common sense can prevail and that the council will renew its efforts to better manage all unauthorised camps, not just those that are perceived to be 'local' families. The Police already have rapid powers available to remove camps from 'sensitive' land. Section 61 of CJPOA 1994 enables the police to remove families at 24 hours notice. The Police are sometimes loathe to use this power and we agree. Section 62 of the Act enables the police to direct families to a specified location. We can and should identify less sensitive areas of Leeds where Gypsy and Traveller families can stay temporarily. Injunctions against people who are unaware that the injunctions even exist are without any merit and will only waste more public resources on officer time, courts and enforcement. Why don't we spend less resources on better results?

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