HC Deb 29 June 1977 vol 934 cc414-21
8. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about the level of provision of camp sites for gipsies.

Mr. Marks

The latest available list which I shall publish with this reply shows that provision had been made for 2,254 families, and means that some 5,000 to 6,000 families are still without accommodation.

Mr. Bennett

Does my hon. Friend agree that the 1968 Act, the Cripps Report and his own visits around the country recently have all highlighted the acute problems being faced by gipsies and being posed by gipsies? Does he further agree that it is now high time that, instead of cajoling, begging and pleading with local authorities to get on with the problem, the Government should take some direct action to provide gipsy sites in the many areas, such as Stockport, which need them?

Mr. Marks

My hon. Friend has rightly drawn attention to the fact that two groups suffer as a result of the failure to provide sites under the 1968 Act, even if that Act itself was adequate—the gipsies themselves, who suffer considerable harassment, particularly in certain areas, and householders who live near the bad, unofficial, illegal and inadequate sites, often without any water supply, without drainage and without refuse collection. The answer, as I recognise from the Cripps Report and my own visits to a number of areas, lies in more good sites. As part of the Government's examination of the Cripps Report, we shall be considering its recommendation that in certain circumstances the Secretary of State should use his powers to direct a local authority to provide sites.

Mr. Wells

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that his answer about the great anxiety which is caused to the neighbours of these people will give them some comfort that at least a Minister knows that they are suffering. But knowing that people are suffering is completely inadequate. In Kent we have a massive pseudo-gipsy population. The fact that the Question calls them gipsies and the Minister has referred to them as gipsies is so much rubbish. Very few of these people are gipsies. A real grasp must be taken of this nettle, which is causing great anxiety in all the fruit-growing counties, where their traditional occupations are no longer available. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will look at this matter continuingly and sympathetically.

Mr. Marks

I am grateful for what the hon. Gentleman said in the early part of his question. We have to realise that if we think only in terms of Romanies and the romantic view of gipsies we shall not solve the problem. The House and the Government will have to deal with the problem, which concerns not only romanies but all the other varieties of travellers—whether they are Irish tinkers, Scottish tinkers, didicois or anything else. This is a serious problem. Some counties have provided no sites whatever under the 1968 Act and I shall bring what pressure I can to bear on them to do so.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Does my hon. Friend agree that there is no wish to persecute gipsies but that, as has been said, many families are badly affected by unauthorised encampments, not least in the county of Gwent? Therefore, along with the Secretary of State for Wales, will he expedite the provision of suitable camps throughout the country?

Mr. Marks

The Secretary of State for Wales and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment are meeting all the various gipsy groups as well as the local authorities. I am meeting the London Boroughs Association on 13th July and hope to meet the other associations connected with local government before the end of July. What I am hoping to get, and what is now being achieved in many areas, is a regional assessment by the people themselves in the region—local authorities and, I hope, the gipsies—of what the needs are, so that they can come to a decision about what a voluntary allocation should be without waiting for legislation.

Mr. Arthur Jones

What consideration has been given, and with what result, if any, to the Cripps recommendation that Exchequer grants for capital expenditure on the provision of gipsy sites—100 per cent. for five years—should be made?

Mr. Marks

That is an important point and one which we are considering. I think that local authority associations on the whole do not like the idea of specific grants, but the larger number of councillors to whom I have spoken in various parts of the country would welcome it. But the problem is not entirely financial. This Act has now been in operation since 1970. Some authorities have not acted at all since them. The problem concerns not only finance but public opinion, which exerts considerable and understandable pressure on councillors. Those of us who have been members of local authorities know what this can mean. Public opinion is causing a slowing up in the provision of the necessary sites.

Following is the information:

(Sites marked † are temporary)
County and District Council (name and/or location of site) Number of pitches
Avon Nil
South Bedfordshire (Pepperstock, Caddington) 12
South Bedfordshire (Chiltern View, Eaton Bray) 20
Luton (Stopsley) 20
Bedford (Kempston Hardwick, Stewartby) 24
Newbury (Burghfield Common) 19
Bracknell (Crawthorne) 12
Beaconsfield (Mansion Lane, Iver) 32
Fenland (New Bridge Lane, Wisbech) 16
Peterborough (Oxney Road) 21
Crewe (Wrenbury Heath) 15
Halton (Warrington Road, Widnes) 15†
Chester (Hapsford, nr. Helsby) 15
Stockton-on-Tees (Bowesfield Lane) 20
Kerrier (Camborne) 5
Cumbria Nil
North-East Derbyshire (Corbriggs, Grassmoor, Chesterfield) 15
East Devon (Broadclyst, nr. Exeter) 10
East Devon (Sowton. nr. Exeter) 20+20†
Poole (Mannings Heath) 22
West Dorset (Piddlehinton, Dorchester) 16
North Dorset (Thornicombe, Blandford) 10
Purbeck (Coldharbour, Wareham) 16
Darlington (Honeypot Lane) 20†
Darlington (Neasham Road) 20
Sedgefield (East Howie (near Ferryhill) 12†
East Sussex
Weaiden (Severn Barn. Hailsham) 3†
Wealden (Polly Arch, Polegate) 3†
Epping Forest (School Lane, Standford Rivers) 12
Harlow (Fern Hill Lane) 16
Basildon (Hovefieids) 20
Harlow (Peldon Road) Wintering site 20†
Forest of Dean (Cinders Caravan Site, Crump Meadow, Cinderford) 8
Tewkesbury (Cursey Lane, Elmstone Hardwicke) 14
Tewkesbury (The Willows, Sandhurst Lane, near Gloucester) 30
Greater London
Barking (Eastbrook End, Dagenham) 16
Barnet (Colney Hatch Lane, Finchley) 12†
Bexley (Powerscroft Road, Foots cray, Sidcup) 15
Bromley (Star Lane, St. Mary Cray) 12
Camden Nil
Croydon (Beddington Farm Road) 15
Ealing (Kensington Road, Northolt) 16†
Enfield (Montagu Road, Edmonton) 15
Greenwich (Thistlebrook, Abbey Wood) 54
Hackney Nil
Hammersmith (Westway) 20
Haringey Nil
Harrow (Watling Farm, Elstree) 15
Havering (South Park, Dennises Lane) 15
Hillingdon (Colne Park, Cricket field Road, West Drayton 26
Hounslow (The Hartlands, Church Road, Cranford) 17
Kingston-up-Thames (Hook Rise North, Tolworth) 15
Islington Nil
Kensington and Chelsea *
Lambeth (Lonesome Depot, off Leonard Road) 15
Lewisham (Thurston Road) 15
Merton (Durnsford Road, Wimbledon) 15
Newham (Clays Lane, Stratford) 14
Redbridge (North View, Forest Road, Hainault) 16
Richmond upon Thames (Bishops Grove, Hampton) 16
Southwark (Dog Kennel Hill) 15†
Sutton (Carshalton Road, Woodmansterne, Banstead) 15
Tower Hamlets Nil
Waltham Forest (Folly Lane. Walthamstow) 16
Wandsworth (Trewint Street) 12
Greater Manchester
Manchester (Dantzic Street) 16
Bolton (Hall Lane) 16
Bury (Todd Street, Fernhill) 13
Wigan (Bickershaw Lane, Abram, Hindley) 15
Wigan (Miry Lane) 15†
Stockport (Hatherlow Street) 15†
Oldham (Greenhills) 15
Southampton (Redbridge Lane) 20†
Southampton (Kanes Hill) 20†
Hart (Star Hill, Hartley Wintney) 20†
Rushmoor (Minley Road, Cove) 20†
Hereford and Worcester
Wychavon (Hipton Hill, Evesham) 15
Bromsgrove (Houndsfield Lane, Wythall) 12
Welwyn/Hatfield (Holwell Court, Cole Green) 20
Hertsmere (Sandy Lane, Bushey) 27
St. Albans (Barley Mow Lane, Smallford) 15
Dacorum (Three Cherry Trees) 15
Watford (Tolpits Lane, Watford) 4†
St. Albans (Watling Street) 6
St. Albans (Park Street) 17 †
Beverley (Middledyke Lane, Cottingham) 45 †
Isle of Wight Nil
Swale (Church Marches, Milton) 12†
Dartford (Claywood Lane) 12
Medway (Cuxton) 12
Maidstone (Stilebridge Lane) 12
Sevenoaks (Edenbridge) 12
Maidstone (Ulcombe) 12
Ashford (Chillmington, Great Chard) 15
Canterbury (Vauxhall Road) 32
Blackburn (Aqueduct Road, Ewood) 17
Preston (London Road) 15†
Leicester (MeyneJl Gorse, Golf Course Lane, Braunstone) 15
Bosworth (Aston Firs, Sapcote, Nr. Hinckley) 15
North West Leicestershire (Station Yard, Castle Donington) 3
Lincoln (Washingborough Road) 15
South Kesteven (Grantham) 16
Liverpool (Oil Street, Waterloo Dock) 24
St. Helens (Sherdley Road) 12
Norwich (Mile Cross Road) 15
Wellingborough (Gypsy Lane, Irchester) 16
Wansbeck (Shields Road, Hartford) 15
North Yorkshire Nil
Nottingham (Moor Bridge) 151†
South Oxfordshire (Sandford-on-Thames, Wallingford) 10+6†
Oxford (Slade Park) 15
Vale of White Horse (Woodhill Lane, East Challow) 12
Salop Nil
Mendip (Berkley) 8
Sedgemoor (Westonzoyland) 8
Taunton Deane (Otterford) 5†
West Somerset (Farringdon Hill Lane, Stogursey) 10
Yeovil (Chilworthy Donyatt) 5†
Yeovil (Chubbards Cross, Ilton) 15
South Yorkshire
Rotherham (North Anston) 15
Doncaster (Armthorpe) 16
Sheffield (Tinsley Park) 15†
Barnsley (Smithies Lane) 15†
Stoke-on-Trent (Goldenhill) 20
Newcastle-upon-Lyme (Lyme Valley) 15†
Suffolk Nil
Tandridge (Tupwood Lane, Caterham) 10†
Tandridge (Green Lane, Outwood) 30
Waverley (Runford, Guildford Road, Farnham) 15†
Tyne and Wear
Newcastle (Lemington) 10†
Gateshead (Abbott's Road, Oak wellgate) 15†
Warwickshire Nil
West Midlands
Birmingham (Castle Bromwich) 16
Sandwell (Brierley Lane, Coseley) 15
Wolverhampton (Showell Road, Bushbury) 15
Dudley (Oak Lane, Kingswinford) 15
Walsall (Willenhall Lane, Bloxwich) 15
West Sussex
Chichester (Tangmere) 22
Mid Sussex (Walstead, Nr. Lindfield) 7
Horsham (Two Mile Ash, South-water) 4†
West Yorkshire
Leeds (Cottingley Springs, Gelderd Road) 15
Bradford (Esholt Lane, Baildon) 16
Wakefield (Heath Common) 20†
Bradford (Bradford Metro, Mary Street) 16
Salisbury (Lode Hill, Downton) 12
Thamesdown (Hay Lane, Wroughton) 30
No. of permanent sites provided at 1st January 1977 102=1,652 pitches
No. of temporary sites provided at 1st January 1977 32= 489 pitches
Total 134=2,141 pitches
* Site provided jointly with Hammersmith L.B.

NOTE: On some temporary sites there are no pitches as such and the size as shown in terms of pitches relates to the general level of occupancy. These levels clearly fluctuate from time to time.

County District Council (name and /or location of site) No of pitches
Clwyd Nil

Grand Totals: 142 sites (109 permanent, 33 temporary) with 2,254 pitches (1,759 permanent, 495 temporary).