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Travellers

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 13 May 2003

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To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to reform the law on the rights of travellers. [112285]

There are no current plans to reform the law on the rights of travellers.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what action he plans to take to require local authorities to provide sites for travellers and gypsies; which authority in areas with two tiers of local government is responsible for (a) the location, (b) the financing and (c) the management and maintenance of sites; and if he will make a statement. [112407]

Local Authorities have discretionary powers to provide sites based on need within their area. The Government have no immediate plans to change this.Planning policies concerning the provision of suitable locations for Gypsy sites, whether local authority provided or private, is set out in the Department of Environment Circular 1/94 'Gypsy Sites and Planning'.The Government do not, however, specify who should take the lead in site provision issues in areas where there are two tiers of Local Government.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what representations he has received from (a) local authorities, (b) organisations representing travellers and gypsies and (c) others to allocate additional finance to provide the additional pitches for travellers and gypsies by 2007 to meet the Government's target. [112408]

The Government have received no representations concerning the allocation of additional finance to provide the number of additional pitches suggested by the research report "The Provision and Condition of Local Authority Gypsy/Traveller Sites in England".

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what procedures he has laid down for local authorities to bid for financial support for the provision of sites for gypsies and travellers; and if he will make a statement. [112409]

Local authorities have a discretionary duty to provide sites based on need within their area. Where they identify a need, they would be expected to fund it. Planning policies concerning the provision of suitable locations for gypsy sites, whether local authority provided or private, is set out in the Department of Environment Circular 1/94 'Gypsy Sites and Planning'.In 2001, the Government made £17 million over three years via the Gypsy Site Refurbishment Grant. The grant allows local authorities to bring unused or under-used sites back into full use; and/or improve the facilities on sites; and to create new transit or emergency stopping sites. Bidding guidance and application forms are sent out to local authorities in the autumn. The guidance sets out the purpose for the scheme, how to bid, the criteria for assessment and conditions for payment.

The Government recently announced a further two rounds of the grant, amounting to £16 million.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much money is to be allocated in (a) this financial year and (b) the next financial year to assist local authorities in the provision of sites for gypsies and travellers; and whether the money can be used for replacement sites in areas where previous sites have closed. [112410]

The Gypsy Sites Refurbishment Grant is providing £8 million in 2003–04—successful bids were announced in March 2003. A further £8 million per year will be available for 2004–05 and 2005–06.The grant may be used to bring under-used or closed sites back into use. Bids that involve re-location of sites will be eligible for consideration provided that planning permission has been obtained. Additionally, the grant may be used to create new temporary sites to enable Gypsies and Travellers to pursue their nomadic lifestyle.