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Gypsies and Travellers

Volume 697: debated on Tuesday 18 December 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which local authorities in England have brought forward development plan documents containing Gypsy and Traveller site alterations in advance of the regional consideration of pitch members, as advised by paragraph 43 of Circular 1/06; and whether they will give the number of pitches in each of these development plan documents. [HL659]

The former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, the Member for Sheffield Heeley, wrote to all local housing authorities in June 2007 asking for information on the progress made to implement Section 225 of the Housing Act 2004 and Circular ODPM 01/2006 “Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Sites” in respect of addressing the accommodation shortage of Gypsy and Traveller caravan sites.

In response to this letter, a number of planning authorities have indicated that they have started this work as listed below.

There are no adopted development plan documents containing specific land allocations for Gypsy and Traveller sites yet.

List of local authorities bringing forward specific land allocation development plan allocation documents for Gypsy and Traveller sites

Bedford

Havant

Salisbury

Bexley

Horsham

Shrewsbury and Atcham

Blaby

Hull

Slough UA

Bracknell Forest UA

Kerrier

Solihull

Brighton and Hove UA

King's Lynn and West Norfolk

South Bucks

Bristol, City of UA

Lancaster

South Cambridgeshire

Cambridge

Leicester City UA

South Derbyshire

Canterbury

Lichfield

South Gloucestershire UA

Carlisle

Maidstone

South Hams

Charnwood

Melton

South Lakeland

Cherwell

Mid Bedfordshire

Spelthorne

Chesterfield

Mid Sussex

St Albans

Chiltern

Mole Valley

St. Edmundsbury

Colchester

New Forest

Stevenage

Corby

Newark and Sherwood

Stockport

Dacorum

North Devon

Stratford-on-Avon

Dartford

North Hertfordshire

Sunderland

Derby City UA

North Kesteven

Surrey Heath

East Cambridgeshire

North Lincolnshire

Taunton Deane

East Devon

North Warwickshire

Teignbridge

East Hertfordshire

North West Leicestershire

Telford

East Lindsey

Northampton

Tendring

Eastbourne

Oadby-Wigston

Three Rivers

Eden

Oldham

Torridge

Epsom and Ewell

Oswestry

Trafford

Exeter

Penwith

Wealden

Fenland

Peterborough UA

West Devon

Forest Heath

Preston

West Lancashire

Gedling

Reading UA

West Wiltshire

Gravesham

Rugby

Wigan

Great Yarmouth

Rushcliffe

Wirral

Guildford

Rutland UA

Woking

Harborough

Salford

Wyre

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, in light of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of DH and others v Czech Republic concerning access by Roma children to the ordinary state educational system, they will review their policies to ensure that more Gypsies and Travellers receive secondary education. [HL981]

The European Court of Human Rights judgment of 13 November 2007 on application no. 57325/00 found evidence of adverse discrimination by the Czech Republic because children of Roma origin were disproportionately assigned to special schools and thereby denied access to mainstream schools. This judgment has no direct relevance to England since parents have free choice of schools, and the issue is rather how to encourage greater take-up of schooling by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children, whether in mainstream or special schools.

The Government are committed to enabling all pupils, regardless of their background, to achieve their potential. Local authorities have a duty to ensure that all children of compulsory school age have access to education, regardless of their nationality or ethnicity. In a speech on 17 October 2007 the Secretary of State reaffirmed his belief that many local authorities and schools need to do more to improve school outcomes for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children. He said that some local authorities were turning around their low attainment, in particular, by involving parents in designing the services they provide, and by engaging them much earlier through children's centres; and that this should happen in every area.

The Government have developed a national programme which supports local authorities and schools to meet the needs of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children. This programme, launched in September 2006, works with parents to boost attendance, using e-learning and mobility projects to help pupils whose schooling is interrupted. The programme will be extended to involve more secondary schools, and to increase the number of local authorities. The Government would also support proposals for a Gypsy, Roma and Traveller history month in June 2008 to raise awareness.