Pickles' traveller clampdown plans slammed for 'inciting tensions'
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Communities
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New guidance by local government secretary Eric Pickles outlining how councils can push out unauthorised traveller sites has been slammed for "inciting unnecessary tensions".
Jennette Arnold OBE, London Assembly Labour Group spokesperson on equalities, has written to Pickles and London Mayor Boris Johnson calling on them to ensure there is enough capacity for traveller groups before targeting those people who live on unauthorised sites.
Arnold wrote: “Considering the recent public criticism your colleagues in the Home Office have received as a result of their campaigns aimed at immigrants, I question the wisdom of you publishing your document, and seek clarification on what steps your Department has taken to ensure there is enough capacity for gypsies and travellers across London and the UK.”
Last week, Pickles said: "I want all councils to be ready to take action straightaway to stop illegal camps and unauthorised sites starting in the first place. Decisive action early on saves money and unnecessary upset for local residents."
The DCLG has said that councils "merely need the political will to uphold the law".
Arnold said: “It seems the government are hell-bent on creating as much animosity as possible towards ethnic minorities at the moment as possible. Gypsies and travellers are often the victims of blatant discrimination and the language used by Eric Pickles in his announcement today is extremely unhelpful and typifies the kind of abuse this community has to put up with.
“Capacity across London and the country for travellers is completely inadequate. I have written to the Local Government Secretary and the Mayor of London to ask them what the current capacity is for travellers at authorised sites.
“Without the necessary capacity, it is unfair to target Gypsies and Travellers who live on unauthorised sites. By publically promoting legal powers that already exist and that councils are aware of, the government could be accused of inciting unnecessary tensions in communities and that is wholly unacceptable.”