Social Welfare Lawyers in the Centre of Birmingham

Worcestershire County Council -v- J (By His Litigation Friend W) and the Equality and Human Rights

Worcestershire County Council -v- J (By His Litigation Friend W) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission [2014] EWCA Civ 1518

Our report of the first instance judgment in this matter is at:- http://www.communitylawpartnership.co.uk/links/tat-news – TAT News E Bulletin No. 5.

J’s parents are Travelling Showpeople.  They are based in Worcestershire but travel elsewhere in the country between February and November each year.  They have a winter base at Malvern.  J suffers from Down’s Syndrome and is a “child in need” because of his disability.

Re-Defining Travellers Out Of Existence

The deadline for submissions to the disastrous proposals contained in the Department for Communities and Local Government consultation on Planning and Travellers was November 23rd 2014.  Great efforts were made by lots of people in putting in submissions and there was a flurry of activity on the last day for submissions.  Additionally some smaller groups only learnt of the consultation very late in the day and requests have been put in asking for an extension of time.  We attach here a selection of the submissions including the submission that CLP did in conjunction with Ruston Planning.   Obviously these submissions are made on behalf of the individuals or individual groups or organisations involved and, though we support the vast majority of the submissions made, the submissions are not necessarily the views of CLP.

Attachments

Total Attachments: 21

Association of Chief Police Officers (668 KB) Churches Network for Gypsies, Travellers and Roma (557 KB) CLP and Ruston Planning (1 MB) Kim Cresswell (554 KB) Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group (302 KB) Equalities and Human Rights Commission (823 KB) Friends, Families and Travellers (224 KB) Hargreaves Planning (598 KB) Heine Planning (497 KB) Irish Community Care Merseyside (880 KB) Tim Jones, Barrister (275 KB) London Gypsy and Traveller Unit (756 KB) Murdoch Planning (1 MB) National Federation of Gypsy Liasion Groups (585 KB) Royal Town Planning Institute (436 KB) South West Law (419 KB) Siobhan Spencer (180 KB) Tony Thompson (773 KB) The Traveller Movement (677 KB) Roger Yarwood (144 KB) York Travellers Trust (282 KB)

O’Connor -v- SSCLG & Epping Forest District Council

O’Connor – v – Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Epping Forest District Council [2014] EWHC 3821 (Admin), 20 November 2014

This case involved an attempt by Irish Traveller families to obtain planning permission for a site in the Green Belt.  The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (SSCLG) decided to “recover” the appeal that went to the Planning Inspector against the local authority’s refusal of planning permission. 

The Planning Inspector recommended to SSCLG that temporary permission should be granted.  SSCLG refused permission laying great emphasis on the question of flood risk.  In the High Court, Wyn Williams J quashed the SSCLG’s decision stating:-

In my Judgment the conclusion reached by the [SSCLG] about the flood risk on the appeal site was unreasonable and/or it failed to take account of material considerations namely the factual conclusions made by the Inspector and his Judgment based upon those factual conclusions (para 46).

See: O’Connor -v- SSCLG & Epping Forest District Council Judgment

Picklesgate

Well done to Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT) who pursued a complaint to the Information Commissioner and eventually got the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to provide the information that the Ministerial Working Group on Gypsies, Roma and Travellers has not met at all since they published a ‘progress report’ in April 2012.   For full details, see the FFT website at:- http://www.gypsy-traveller.org/picklesgate-government-covers-roma-neglect/.

Lord Avebury, on the 11 November 2014, asked a question in Parliament about the Ministerial Working Group and received a response from Lord Ahmad.  You can find the question and response at:- http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2014-11-11a.36.0&s=speaker%3A12876#g36.1.  The “summary of progress” document that was deposited in the Library of the Houses of Parliament by Lord Ahmad is attached to this news article below.

Green Belt Cases

On 4th and 5th December 2014 the Judicial Reviews against the Green Belt planning appeal recovery process of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (SSCLG) on behalf of two of our Gypsy clients came to a final hearing. We were very pleased that the Equality and Human Rights Commission were given permission to intervene in our cases. The judgment is reserved and will be handed down in the New Year.

In another High Court case (not directly challenging the recovery process) a decision by the SSCLG which went against his Planning Inspector was overturned by the High Court – see O’Connor – v – SSCLG and Epping Forest District Council which is now available on the CLP website under Gypsy and Traveller cases.

Scottish Police Guidance

TAT provide advice, assistance and representation throughout England and Wales.  We do not cover Scotland or Northern Ireland.  However, in his ongoing work on the Legal Action book on Gypsy and Traveller law, of which he is co-editor, Chris Johnson had reference to the latest version of the Police Scotland Guidance Gypsies/Travellers Management of Unauthorised Encampments : Standard Operating Procedure (2014).  This Guidance is extremely positive in the way it approaches the issue of unauthorised encampments and we hope that the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), who are considering their own Guidance which covers England and Wales, will have reference to the Scottish Guidance.  To take just one example:-

6.4 Although unauthorised encampment is a criminal offence, in accordance with the Scottish Government Guidelines for Managing Unauthorised Camping by Gypsies/Travellers in Scotland, there is a general presumption against prosecution of Gypsies/Travellers for setting up unauthorised encampments.  Prosecution will only be considered when:-

 a) A suitable alternative stopping place has been identified and the Gypsies/Travellers have refused to re-locate within a reasonable time (it is the responsibility of the local authority to identify the stopping place.  The Police have no power to do this); or    b) Where the use of a particular site by Gypsies/Travellers, or the excessive size of the encampment, causes a severe road safety or public health hazard; or

 c) Where the same Gypsies/Travellers have been repeatedly evicted from a site by the local authority and return after a short time.

6.5 Failure by a Local Authority to assess or make provision for the needs of Gypsies/Travellers will serve to reinforce the presumption against prosecution.  However, the presumption may be overridden by other public interest considerations arguing in favour of prosecution.  This may include serious disruption to businesses and/or members of the public as a result of offensive or criminal behaviour by Gypsies/Travellers.