Gypsies and travellers in Waverley

The council recognises and accepts the rights of travellers/gypsies and also those people on whose land unauthorised camping takes place.

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.

Unauthorised encampments on council land

We take the lead in managing unauthorised encampments on Waverley Borough Council land within the Waverley boundaries.

When we are made aware of an unauthorised encampment on council land, we follow the process outlined below:

• Visit the site within 24 hours where possible.

• Arrange for appropriate facilities for each encampment to ensure welfare needs are met and minimise its impact in the area.

• Demonstrate that the Gypsies/Travellers are camped on the land without consent.

• Liaise between Gypsies and Travellers and the settled community.

• Carry out a welfare assessment

• Decide if a tolerated period of occupation is necessary or whether to use statutory powers of removal, and where appropriate advise all key partner agencies.

What powers does the council have?

• Councils are responsible for removing travellers from council-owned land – not the police. The police however, do have discretionary powers if certain legal requirements are met.

• Removal can take up to 5 working days or longer, as we have a number of legal requirements we need to follow before we can move the travellers on.  These checks are based on undertaking checks on health and welfare – they need to be assessed by law.   

• We have the power to issue directions to leave; however if the site is not vacated then we have to apply to the Magistrates’ Court for a hearing to seek approval to move them on.  If approval is given and the travellers don’t leave we can remove  them from the land.

• If they are on land at the side of a road and if owned by the county council, the council will report the matter to Surrey County Council for action.

Unauthorised encampments on private land

If Gypsies/Travellers are camped on private land, it is usually the landowner's responsibility to move them. We recommend that if you are in this situation you seek independent legal advice.

If a landowner is in breach of any planning or licensing regulations, the council are obliged to take action  where expedient to do so against the landowner to demand the removal of the illegal encampment.

Gypsy/traveller sites

Surrey County Council holds a waiting list for gypsies and travellers who wish to be considered for plots on any of the sites owned and managed directly by Surrey County Council.

Page owner: Henry Ascoli. Last updated: 14/12/2018 14:46

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