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Your Borough Of Poole
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Gypsy and Travellers in Poole

Introduction

Most people in Dorset know very little about Gypsies and Travellers. You may, for instance, be unaware that the population in Dorset includes a significant number of Gypsies and Travellers. Many have long historical links with this part of the country and there is quite a significant settled community living in housing locally.

The Dorset population of Gypsies and Travellers comprises of mainly English Romany Gypsies, Irish Traveller, New Traveller, and Circus and Showmen.

Gypsies and Travellers are protected from discrimination by the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998, together with all ethnic groups who have a particular culture, language or values.  Our Fairness for All scheme ensures that we meet the needs of all groups of people and challenge prejudice where it exists, including that experienced by Gypsies and Travellers.

Find out more about the History of Gypsies and Travellers and their definitions.

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Current Unauthorised Encampments

If you have seen an unauthorised encampment on an open space in Poole please check our Current Unauthorised Encampments page, as we may be aware of this already. This page is regularly updated with actions being taken by the Council.

If no details are shown then please report it by telephoning 01202 261700 or via our Report it facility.

Authorised Residential Site

Borough of Poole currently has one authorised residential site of 15 pitches for Gypsy and Travellers.  As with all social tenants, residents are expected to pay rent, council tax and utilities and abide by tenancy conditions and site rules to maintain their accommodation.  We offer a range of support for residents including tenancy support and management, budgeting, financial management, adult literacy, playgroups and family outreach (link to Local Lettings Plan).

There is currently a long waiting for the residential site so Housing and Community Services aim to help Travellers explore other housing options and sources of support.  Travellers are welcome to join the waiting list for the site and this application is done via Dorset Homechoice, which also gives applicants the opportunity to be considered for other forms of social housing in Poole.  

Gypsies and Travellers are welcome to access our Housing Options Service based at the Civic Centre, where we offer help with form filling and literacy, help to access health and education services, links to supportive local churches and community groups and help to contact other Traveller sites in Dorset which may have vacancies. 

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Unauthorised Encampments

Gypsies and Travellers' way of life means that they travel the country staying for various periods of time in different locations, in order to earn a living. This has been their way of life for many generations.

There is a serious shortage of sites for Gypsies and Travellers both in Dorset and across the country as a whole. This has led to Gypsies and Travellers camping on land that they do not own (unauthorised encampments), and also a growing tendency to buy land and develop it without planning permission (unauthorised developments). At present, approximately one in five Traveller caravans in England are on unauthorised sites. 90% of planning applications that Gypsies and Travellers submit fail, which often forces them back onto the road with no fixed abode.   

When Gypsies/Travellers camp on land that they do not own, without the permission of the owner, they are trespassing. If a negotiated solution is not possible, then private landowners, Local Authorities and the Police all have powers of enforcement to evict. However, a negotiated solution that avoids confrontation is often the most appropriate way of dealing with a situation.

Unauthorised encampments fall into 2 main categories: those on land owned by Local Authorities (highways, schools, public parks and car-parks etc), and those on privately owned land.   Where the encampment is on our land we can take action. If they are on private land the landowner will have to take action. The Government has advised that when unauthorised campers are not causing a problem, the site may be tolerated.

We are currently working with Bournemouth and Dorset Councils to bring forward plans for authorised sites, which would enable us to manage unauthorised encampments more effectively in future

To find out more out our approach to managing unauthorised encampments, see frequently asked questions.

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