London Gypsies and Travellers announces the start of a research project to reveal the potential of negotiated stopping in London. The project will receive up to £30,000 of grant funding from the Mayor of London and will be carried out in collaboration with Professor Jo Richardson at DeMontfort University (DMU). The research will include interviews with Gypsy and Traveller families living in roadside camps, a survey of all London Boroughs and more in-depth interviews. Findings and recommendations will be published in a final report in June 2019.
The first stage of the research consists of an online survey for Local Authorities and other organisations (such as Housing Associations) to provide an overview of the current approach to managing encampments across London and an initial exploration of opportunities for negotiated stopping. This can be accessed here https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/KCRYXF2
Negotiated stopping is a balanced and humane approach to managing roadside camps, based on a mutual agreement between the local authority and Gypsy and Traveller families on matters such as correct waste disposal and basic temporary facilities, sometimes directing Gypsy and Traveller communities away from contentious public spaces to more suitable council land. Negotiated stopping has been shown to save costs for the local authority and police service and improve the lives of Gypsy and Traveller families, being consolidated in a model of good practice by Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange (GATE).
The aim of the research is to understand the opportunities and conditions for implementing a negotiated stopping pilot in London, including political leadership, availability of land for temporary use and building councils’ capacity for joint working. This will in turn support the development of a proposal for how a negotiated stopping pilot in London might work.
This project is timely, as increasing number of councils are seeking High Court injunction orders against roadside camps. Through this research we hope to build relationships with councils and identify together the factors that would make negotiated stopping a successful and effective alternative. An essential aspect is being able to distinguish the temporary and permanent accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers from incidents of large scale fly-tipping which are sometimes associated with camps, and address each issue adequately. The research will acknowledge the challenges facing councils but focus on seeking positive solutions.
The Mayor is also making available grant funding to local authorities through the Affordable Homes Programme to remodel sites and pitches or build new ones. The London Borough of Southwark is one of the first boroughs to receive funding for this purpose, to refurbish 37 existing Gypsy and Traveller pitches. The Mayor is encouraging all London boroughs to access this funding to support Gypsy and Traveller accommodation needs within their borough.
Debby Kennett, London Gypsies and Travellers CEO said: ‘We welcome the Mayor’s support for negotiated stopping as part of wider commitments to the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers. This research is a significant step forward in understanding how councils and other public services can help address the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers and facilitate their nomadic way of life. It has the potential to change public narratives about roadside camps and help build inclusive neighbourhoods where Gypsy and Traveller families are welcomed.’
James Murray, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, said: “The needs of Gypsies and Travellers are often overlooked, and so the Mayor wants to offer his support in helping the community to find the sites and pitches they need.
“Negotiated stopping has the potential to improve life for Gypsies and Travellers, and could help reduce conflict with councils and local people. We hope this work will develop our understanding of how negotiated stopping might work in London and enable discussion between the Gypsy and Traveller community, local authorities, and other public services to enable them to work together towards a positive solution.”
Jo Richardson said: “This project will build on findings from research on Gypsy and Traveller accommodation undertaken at DMU over the last two decades. Negotiated approaches can be helpful in meeting the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers and move forward in providing cohesive communities which work for everyone. I’m delighted to be working with London Gypsies and Travellers on this important work for the GLA.”