Friday, 16 September 2011

300 travellers ask to be rehoused by council (From Echo)

300 travellers ask to be rehoused by council

AT LEAST 300 travellers could be rehoused by Basildon Council, if the authority forces them out of their illegal site.

So far, 170 adults and 130 children, members of the Dale Farm community, at Crays Hill, have asked for alternative accommodation.

More applications are expected, as a number of other travellers are away.

The council may have to pay for bed and breakfast accommodation for them, but it is also looking for available pitches across the country.

Travellers previously applied together to be rehoused, but it was rejected.

According to council sources, many individual applications may not be approved, as it is believed some travellers made themselves homeless by leaving legitimate sites in Thurrock and Hertfordshire, and council homes in Wolverhampton, as revealed by the Echo.

A letter, accompanied by the latest 45 applications, has asked the council why there has been no response to earlier rehousing requests made in January and February.

Campaigner Grattan Puxon said council policy stated a response would be forthcoming within five working days.

His letter said the community would not accept traditional housing, and they want to stay together.

It stated: “We don’t wish to be split up, and we don’t want to be forced to leave our private yards to live separated on council sites.

“We can’t tolerate living in houses. It’s against our culture. Travellers feel, having lost the possibility of following the old nomadic lifestyle, it is essential to the preservation of their culture and ethnicity to keep this community intact.”

It asks for further private meetings with the council in June or July to discuss the matter, and for all responses to go to Mr Puxon because of problems with postal deliveries at the site.

Council leader Tony Ball said: “We have a duty to comply with homeless legislation, and each application will be considered individually.

“We cannot guarantee people will be rehoused together, as we may have a duty to re-house some, but not in other cases.

“Where we have a duty, we will comply with legislation. Obviously, they have a way of life, and we have to take that into consideration.”

Mr Ball said people may be housed outside the district, and the council was attempting to source vacant caravan pitches elsewhere, but it would not be buying land.

Posted via email from projectbrainsaver