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.
Most Gypsy and Traveller support groups and representatives would agree that, if accommodation problems are resolved for Gypsies and Travellers who live in caravans, then all the other issues such as problems with health and education would also begin to be resolved. However, there are only two of the 28 “commitments” that relate to accommodation. The summary of progress on those is as follows:-
Commitment 12 : We will help Gypsy and Traveller representative groups showcase small private sites that are well presented and maintained.
Progress so far : DCLG contacted local authorities – around 30 responded suggesting possible sites for inclusion. We suggested ideas for this project to the Liaison Group, including a template case study document to help them to take the lead on this.
Publication : Discussions about this at DCLG Gypsy and Traveller Liaison Group in November 2012.
Commitment 13: The Government will continue to promote improved health outcomes for Travellers through the planning system.
Progress so far : Wording on health is in the Planning Policy for Traveller sites (published in April 2012).
Publication: Planning policy published in April 2012.
We would suggest that these two commitments are so minimalistic as to be laughable.