Basildon council has worked within the law even at a huge cost to taxpayers. Having said that this a failure on both sides - the council for not setting in place appropriate planning policies and working towards enabling legal sites to meet need. In law the needs of the Gyspies and Travellers for pitches fall in the same category as affordable social housing. Many G&Ts are prepared to buy their own land but it is for the council to enable sites to be permitted within law.
Local planning is seen as th main enabling mechanism by the coalition government to generate affordable housing, energy efficiency, economic development and jobs, etc, etc, it is for the residents to exercise their judgement in developing local policies. Need to recognise that there are deep-seated prejudices at work and a lack of leadership in councils where those in charge are reluctant to educate the public in curbing their prejudice and look at what is good for social cohesion and long term prosperity/security for all sections.
Whilst the situation in Basildon has come to the attention of the national media because of its size and long gestation period through the legal process, , this situation is all too prevalent in Gloucestershire as it is is in many other counties. Some have taken the initiative such as in Lincolnshire and have kept full control in meeting need against supply.
For the Gypsy and Traveller communities - they also need to understand that the world is changing and they will have to adapt and change to a more settled life. Their families particularly children and older folk suffer most and the children are disadvan from the start - paying the price of their parents' inability to change. Many lose out on education and health and adapt marginal work/lifestyles which in turn marginalise them even more.
G&Ts need to understand that planning laws as other need to be heeded and that they should use the available political system to press for greater equity in how they are treated in housing/pitch allocations.
For the community at large this is a failure to address a situation at home - whereas we take pride in finding solutions to conflicts and injustice all around the world.”