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Julian Sturdy - Strong Voice for York Outer

Julian Sturdy

Member of Parliament for York Outer

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Julian Calls for Changes to Government’s Traveller Policy

June 15, 2015

Julian has called on the Government to make significant changes to its policies on Gypsies and Travellers, particularly with regard to planning matters.

On Wednesday, he took part in a Parliamentary debate hosted by his colleague Philip Hollobone, MP for Kettering, on these issues.

Julian, who is known for his opposition to several Traveller sites proposed in the greenbelt in the City of York Council’s Local Plan, intervened during Mr Hollobone’s speech, asking:

“My local authority of York proposed two new Traveller sites in my constituency and is he not surprised that when it was calculating the need for those sites, it counted Travellers in bricks and mortar—Travellers who are adequately housed—as in desperate need? That contributed to the requirement, as the authority calls it, for two new Traveller sites.”

 In his response, Mr Hollobone paid tribute to Julian’s new law to crackdown on flygrazing, saying:

“The name of my hon. Friend the Member for York Outer is well known in my constituency, because he is a hero to the horse-owning community as a result of his pioneering legislation to combat fly-grazing. That legislation has been widely welcomed in Kettering and throughout the land. Am I surprised by what he tells us from his own constituency? I am not surprised. Am I disappointed? Yes, I am, because the law is working against the settled community and in favour of Gypsies and Travellers.”

Reflecting on the debate, Julian has set out the changes in policy he would like to see at Government level:

“There are three basic things which need to happen to redress the imbalance that currently sees Traveller families unfairly advantaged over settled families when it comes to housing and planning matters. Firstly, we must redefine the word Traveller in planning terms. Currently, Gypsies and Travellers living in bricks and mortar housing are still treated as such and as a result, local authorities must include them in their accommodation needs assessments. This has lead to the farcical situation in which site provision is made for people who are already adequately housed. I am pleased that the Government has consulted on changing these definitions, but it must now follow up with action.

 “Secondly, the Government must amend its guidance to local authorities which currently encourages them to provide for 3% annual growth in Traveller households. Although it is just guidance, too many local authorities are following it to the T and failing to give diverse local circumstances and needs the weight they deserve.”

 “Finally, but perhaps most importantly, the Government should scrap Section 225 of the 2004 Housing Act. This piece of legislation places Gypsies and Travellers above every other ethnic group in the world by insisting that local authorities make special provision for assessing and providing for their needs. As a society it is important that all ethnic groups are treated fairly across the board. However, to deliver that fairness we need a level playing field so that, regardless of our racial or ethnic background, we are all equal before planning law.”

 

Pictured: Julian with residents from Naburn on a site which is proposed for 15 Traveller pitches in the Council’s Local Plan