Council bosses set to scrap proposal for permanent stopover site for travellers in Sunderland

Plans to provide a permanent stopover site for gypsy/traveller communities in Sunderland are set to be scrapped by council bosses in a policy update.

Tuesday, 22nd May 2018, 4:06 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd May 2018, 4:11 pm

Next week, Sunderland City Council’s (SCC) cabinet will discuss the final draft of their Core Strategy and Development Plan until 2033.

Although the plan’s first draft included three potential stop over sites for gypsy/travellers, the council now aims to continue an  “unauthorised encampment policy”.

This follows concerns about costs, potential usage and a suitable location for a permanent stopover site in Sunderland.

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The update of SCC’s 2008 policy will support sites being provided for short periods in place of a permanent area for gypsy/travellers.

If accepted by cabinet, the new policy would see SCC accept unauthorised encampments based on their location.

Camps would not be allowed on sites of special scientific interest, school car parks / playing fields, village greens and hospital, supermarket or leisure centre car parks.

But SCC still has eviction powers if encampments are close to busy highways that could “pose threats to the encampment or the settled community”, a report adds.

On council-owned land, location, welfare, length of intended stay, size of encampment and complaints would be considered before any legal  action is taken.

Decisions would also involve an Encampment Review Group which would invite representatives from SCC, police, health services and gypsy/traveller communities to have their say.

The aim of of the policy update, a report states, includes building community relations, managing encampments and working with partners to tackle social exclusion.

The policy would also be amended to match changes in law and an annual report will be published, detailing the number of encampments and enforcement cases in Sunderland.

SCC’s cabinet will make their final decision on the policy at Sunderland Civic Centre on Wednesday, May 30.

For more, visit: www.sunderland.gov.uk

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service