In the last 50 years more and more laws have been passed limiting the lifestyle of traditional Gypsies and Travellers. Traditional stopping places have been barred to them. Councils that have provided enough land for housing, have not provided enough land for Gypsy and Traveller sites. Abusive language and actions that would lead to prosecutions if applied to other ethnic groups, go unpunished. Then some complain that a people who have been deprived of their traditional stopping places without replacement and have been denied the sites that are allocated for housing are stopping on the only places that they can find.
The last government introduced the following laws against Gypsies and Travellers that ought to be repealed:
– Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 sections 62A-62E (added by the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 section 60);
– Temporary Stop Notices under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 sections 171E-H in so far as they apply to caravans and mobile homes – the law already excludes houses, so this is simply asking for equal treatment (added by the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 section 52)
– The extension of the power to refuse to determine repeat planning applications in sections 70A and 70B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (introduced by the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 section 43).
I very much hope that the Coalition Government will work with the Gypsy and Traveller community to enable them to maintain their traditional lifestyle free of persecution and demonisation.
Why is this idea important?
A civilised society is one that treats its poorest and weakest groups fairly, that does not pander to the basest of human instincts and that seeks to do good. Government should set an example to others of good and compassionate behaviour.
The UK's Gypsy and Traveller community has the lowest life-expectancy, the highest infant mortality and the lowest level of literacy of any established ethnic group. That shames society as a whole.