The term ‘Gypsies and Travellers’ is difficult to define as it does not constitute a single, homogenous group, but encompasses a range of groups with different histories, cultures and beliefs including: Romany Gypsies, Welsh Gypsies, Scottish Gypsy Travellers and Irish Travellers. There are also Traveller groups which are generally regarded as ‘cultural’ rather than ‘ethnic’ Travellers. These include ‘New’ (Age) Travellers and occupational travellers, such as showmen and waterway travellers.
The Planning Inspector who undertook an assessment of the Local Plan on the 14th – 16th May 2019, made it clear that there needs to be 4 new sites for Gypsy & Travellers in our district, in the next 10 years. No if or buts, just get it done.
We have NO sites in our district for Travellers, hence the huge problem we have. The same is true of Canterbury, Sevenoaks and Thanet. Do our Council and our elected representatives suffer from institutionalised discrimination and racism?
The Council’s who do not have sites in their districts are the ones who tend to have the most illegal incursions. Over the last few years these illegal incursions have been highly publicised in our local newspapers. Canterbury has sought a district wide ban against Gypsies & Travellers. However, Folkestone & Hythe, Sevenoaks & Thanet have so far resisted this route.
Which one of our 30 elected representatives in Folkestone & Hythe District will step forward to demonstrate they will accept a site in their ward, regardless of what their electorate may think? After all, they are under a legal obligation to fulfil the Human Rights Act and Equality Act.
The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. Gypsies & Travellers have been declared by the courts to be protected as “races” under the Act.
Nevertheless, Gypsies and Travellers continue to face high levels of racial discrimination, contributing to and exacerbating the inequalities they experience. Our Council & Cllrs are not solving the problem, they are the problem, as they continue to do nothing about offering this race of people, who make up 0.1% of the population, a place to call home, however transitory.
Our Council & Councillors continuing silence will speak volumes and demonstrate that each of them hold a prejudice towards people of another race. They can through their ideologies as parties interpret the world in various ways; the point however is to change it, for the few as well as the many in this instance, especially given the fact that 0.1% of the population identified as Gypsy, Roma or Traveller. So come on Cllrs, demonstrate that you are not racist, by accepting a pitch in your ward. Can you do it, yes you can.
The Shepwayvox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful