Gypsy and Traveller community members told Greater London Authority officers how the Mayor’s housing strategy and new London Plan need to address their needs, at the most recent meeting of the London Gypsy and Traveller Forum.
Representatives from the GLA housing and London Plan teams listened to Forum members as they gave their views and described how government changes to the definition of “Traveller” in 2015 has affected Gypsies and Travellers. It has resulted, for example, in accommodation needs assessments identifying zero need, pushed more people into unauthorised encampments, and increased feelings of insecurity about the future of existing sites.
The forthcoming London plan will include another definition of Traveller, the GLA officers told the Forum. “This will be a very positive step forward, but the Mayor and the GLA need to ensure that councils take this into account and actually measure and plan to meet the existing and future housing needs of the community,” says Ilinca Diaconescu, London Gypsies and Travellers’ Policy Officer, who attended the meeting held at City Hall on 17th October.
The London Housing Strategy indicates that funding for new caravan sites and refurbishment of existing sites will be provided through the Mayor’s Affordable Homes Fund. However, the first round of bidding for the grant brought no applications for Traveller sites. At the meeting, Forum members presented examples current barriers to new site provision – even when funding has been secured. Particular concerns were raised about land owned by Transport for London and the Mayor’s powers to ensure delivery.
“The Forum will put forward a number of questions to the GLA about the allocation of funding and get a report back before future meetings,” says Ilinca Diaconescu. “We need to monitor the progress of local authorities and City Hall and identify opportunities for a proactive approach to site delivery.”
The draft London Housing Strategy is currently under consultation until 7th December 2017. LGT encourages everyone to send comments and proposals. More details can be found here. If you need any support or would like to discuss this in more detail, please email Ilinca, firstname.lastname@example.org
The draft London Plan will be published for consultation at the end of November for 12 weeks. LGT will organise a community meeting to talk about what the new policies mean for Gypsies and Travellers.
Picture: the Forum meeting at City Hall on 17th October