Social Welfare Lawyers in the Centre of Birmingham

News

Business As Usual

Despite the Coronavirus lockdown, we are continuing with business as usual at CLP. Though we are not carrying out any office appointments, we are arranging telephone appointments with both existing and new clients. Please telephone our switchboard on 0121 685 8595. Please note that, during this emergency period, the switchboard will have slightly reduced hours and will be open between 9am and 5pm.

Mead Lane Moorings

The Travellers’ Advice Team at CLP were instructed by a liveaboard boater who resorts to the River Avon and the Kennet and Avon Canal. She has what Canal & River Trust (CRT) describe as a ‘continuous cruising licence’ which means she has to move her boat ‘bona fide for navigation’ in terms of the British Waterways Act 1995. This means she cannot remain in the same place for more than 14 days apart from in exceptional circumstances.

Definition of Gypsy and Traveller

Lisa Smith -v- The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Others [2021] EWHC 1650 (Admin) 17 June 2021

Between 2006 and 2015, planning policies included within the definition of ‘Gypsies and Travellers’ those who had either temporarily or permanently ceased to travel by reason of health, education or old age. By a revised planning policy issued in August 2015, the Department for Communities and Local Government modified the definition to remove the reference to those who had permanently ceased to travel for such reasons. Lisa Smith, a Romany Gypsy who lives with her extended family in caravans on a private site in Leicestershire, challenged the lawfulness of the 2015 policy following a Planning Inspector refusing her planning appeal because she did not come within the definition. As a result the Planning Inspector concluded that the application by Ms Smith did not benefit from the more permissive planning regime contained in Planning policy for traveller sites.

Mr Justice Pepperall dismissed her appeal. Originally Ms Smith appealed on another ground, aside from the challenge to the alleged unlawfulness of the definition, but she is no longer pursuing that other ground.

PRESS RELEASE – IS THIS THE END OF THE WIDE INJUNCTION?

Since 2015, 38 local authorities in England have obtained wide injunctions against Gypsies and Travellers effectively banning them from large swathes of land in the local authority area. We believe that most of the land identified would be the only land that Gypsies and Travellers would be likely to be able to stop on if they were resorting to the area or passing through the area.  Obviously this is in the context where there remains a totally inadequate supply of stopping places for Gypsies and Travellers who are exercising their nomadic way of life whether that be permanent pitches, temporary pitches or the use of land subject to ‘negotiated stopping agreements’. For many, many years Gypsy and Traveller organisations have argued that the answer to unauthorised encampments is the provision of sites and stopping places. If every local authority in England obtained such a wide injunction, where would Gypsies and Travellers go to?

Braintree DC v SSHCLG and Nicholls [2021] EWHC 651 (QB)

A Planning Inspector granted Mr Nicholls planning permission for a Travellers’ site. The local authority challenged this decision on the basis that the Inspector had misinterpreted the development plan and had failed to provide sufficient reasons for her decision. Timothy Mould QC (sitting as a Deputy Judge of the High Court) dismissed the appeal. If the local authority’s interpretation of their own policy had been allowed it would have meant that no Gypsy or Traveller site could ever have been given permission in the countryside. Their appeal against the costs award against them was also dismissed. See:  https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2021/651.html

Canal & River Trust Terms and Conditions of Licence

CRT have recently carried out a consultation on new terms and conditions for their licences. https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/national-consultations

National Bargee Travellers Association are very concerned both about the consultation process itself and about some of the proposed new terms and conditions. They are looking for boat dwellers who would be interested in potentially bringing a legal challenge. If you are interested in bringing such a challenge please phone us on our advice line which is 0121 685 8677 Monday to Friday 9am to 1pm.

The Criminalisation of Trespass

Legal Briefing on Proposals to Criminalise Trespass
By The Community Law Partnership

Thanks to Marc Willers QC and Tessa Buchanan of Garden Court Chambers and to Abbie Kirkby of Friends, Families and Travellers for their comments on this paper.

The Travellers Advice Team at Community Law Partnership are very interested in hearing from any Gypsies and Travellers who may be adversely affected by the proposed new criminal offence. We would encourage people to phone us on our Advice Line which is 0121 685 8677 Monday to Friday 9am to 1pm.

 

Roadside Gypsies and Travellers During the Pandemic Part 3

Merritt v Thurrock Council & Midos Management Chelmsford County Court, 8 January 2021

Since soon after the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, letters from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Welsh Government have indicated that local authorities should attempt not to evict Gypsies and Travellers or should seek to identify alternative locations and should also look to provide services such as water, sanitation and refuse collection (see Issues Nos 50 and 51 of TAT News: http://www.communitylawpartnership.co.uk/noticeboard/links/tat-news).
The case of Merritt, albeit not concerning a Traveller, has effectively re-emphasised this message.

Roadside Gypsies and Travellers During the Pandemic Part 1

CLP were commissioned by Friends, Families and Travellers to produce a report (funded by the Baring Foundation) into the situation of roadside Gypsies and Travellers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report centres on law and guidance as it applies to unauthorised encampments, evictions and service provision.

See the report here: https://www.gypsy-traveller.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Legal-briefing-22.2.2021.pdf
For the webinar delivered on this matter on 27 October 2020 see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fk35x0qvIas&feature=youtu.be