§ Mr. Hodgson
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many local authorities now have a site for itinerant travellers with 15 or more places;
(2)how many local authorities have complied fully with the Caravan Sites Act 1968;
(3)if he will list those metropolitan boroughs in the West Midlands County which at present provide no site for itinerant travellers;
(4)if he will consider introducing legislation to give those local authorities which have provided caravan sites power to impound caravans which are illegally parked.
§ Mr. Marks
I draw the attention of the hon. Member to the table below, which shows that at 1st January 1977 there were 142 local authority sites in England and Wales, offering accommodation for 2,254 gipsy families.
At that date, provision had been made, of either a permanent or temporary nature, for 15 or more pitches for gipsies in the area of 98 district councils and London borough councils.
In the Metropolitan County of West Midlands, in addition to those listed, a site has been opened at Coventry this year; in this county the only district with no local authority site is Solihull.
When a county council, in compliance with the Caravan Sites Act 1968, has provided for all the gipsies residing in or resorting to its area, that area may be designated. Designation gives the council greater powers to secure the removal of gipsy caravans parked illegally. No county council in England or Wales has yet qualified for designation of its area.593W
The question of designating areas of less than county size was one of the matters dealt with in the Cripps Report on Accommodation for Gipsies, published earlier this year. The report recommended that designation should continue to be granted only on a county basis, but the Government are awaiting comments from all interested bodies before taking any decision on the recommendation.