Regular readers will know that in August 2015 the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (SSCLG) changed the definition of Gypsy/Traveller (or “traveller” as the SSCLG insists on saying) for planning purposes.
From that date those Gypsies and Travellers who have had to stop travelling permanently due to age or ill health have been excluded from the definition. We have been arguing since then that the definition is discriminatory, prejudicial, unreasonable and disproportionate especially as regards those Gypsies and Travellers who are old, disabled, in serious ill health or caring for others. Regular readers will also know that we have been involved in an enormous struggle to obtain Legal Aid for a Gypsy woman called Mrs Nunn who has instructed us to challenge the definition. We are pleased to inform everyone that (only after lodging a separate Judicial Review against the Director of Legal Aid!) Legal Aid has now been granted and we have lodged that challenge.
The SSCLG now has to submit an Acknowledgment of Service and Grounds of Resistance to that application.
We are still very interested in hearing from others who are affected by the definition and examples include the following:-
- Those who lose planning appeals because of the new definition
- Those who are not included in Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessments because of the new definition;
- Those who are not allowed onto waiting lists or excluded from waiting lists because of the new definition.
We would encourage anyone who is affected by the definition to contact us on our advice line. Well done to Mrs Nunn for persevering in this matter. Her barristers are Marc Willers QC and Tessa Buchanan of Garden Court Chambers. We will keep readers closely informed of progress and please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries about this hugely important matter.