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Costs relating to Gypsies and Travellers

Information on costs relating to Gypsies and Travellers.

Costs relating to Gypsies and Travellers
 Questions Answers
What do Travellers cost the people of Dorset?  

Gypsy and Traveller issues will always cause some costs to fall upon the taxpayer. Considering how difficult it is for Travellers to access any public services, they actually cost very little in the wider scheme of things. We calculate that we save the ratepayer around £400,000 a year through our balanced approach.

To explain this further - legal evictions cost money. A simple unopposed legal eviction of a small encampment will cost between one and three thousand pounds, and a large resisted removal has cost up to thirty thousand pounds in Dorset. It can get worse because, if there are successful legal challenges in the High Court (as with a Weymouth case in 2001) the costs for us and the police keep climbing. These are of course one-off costs. However, when we or the police move one encampment another is created elsewhere, and the more frequently we evict the more encampments and evictions we have.

While we try to exercise a balanced approach, one of our prime considerations is nuisance to local people. If the position really is intolerable we move as fast as the law allows.

What about the costs of clearing up after an encampment? These can be considerable but the press often inflate the figures by including other sums, such as defensive measures to prevent a reoccurrence, and estimated loss of revenue for nearby facilities such as car parks and leisure centres. It is also true that Traveller encampments in rural areas attract fly-tipping, much of which is clearly not attributable to the campers. Many rural sites are left spotless and there is no cost to the taxpayer but typically we might spend between £200 and £500 to remove abandoned vehicles and other rubbish after an eviction. Of course some problem sites cost a great deal more. Generally speaking, there is more rubbish left after a legal eviction than a negotiated removal.
Can Gypsies or Travellers be charged for the damage they cause? Under current legislation this is practically impossible. Even if evidence is gathered, it is necessary to identify the guilty persons and arrange for court proceedings. The difficulty of tracing the Gypsies or Travellers makes the proceedings uneconomic and in the case of New Travellers who may have no property of value and very little income, there is little prospect of recovering costs. In certain, very specific circumstances, vehicles could be impounded but this can have the effect of making families homeless or requiring children to be taken into care. This is not proportionate in Human Rights terms and is not a course we would take lightly.
Who will pay for new sites when they are provided?

When sites are identified through the new plan, many will be purchased and financed or privately rented by Gypsies, Travellers or Travelling Showpeople in the same way as individual house buyers or rent payers, at no cost to local communities.

In terms of new public sites, a number of funding options are available, including the use of Government grants for the provision of Gypsy and Traveller pitches, which local authorities and registered social landlords (housing associations) can bid for. Where sites are provided by the council or a housing association, Gypsies and Travellers pay rent for their pitch.

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