Traveller charity hits out at Havant Borough Council measures to build anti-encampment defences at Mengham Park on Hayling Island

MEASURES to deter unauthorised encampments in Mengham Park have been branded as ‘wasteful cruelty’ by a traveller charity.

By Toby Paine
Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 3:02 pm

A planning application to install perimeter defences around Mengham Park was met with unanimous support from Havant borough councillors.

Councillor Yvonne Weeks said: ‘This is needed, the travellers cause a lot of disruption around the borough and it costs a lot of money to the taxpayers to do the clean-up campaign after they’ve gone.

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Travellers in Mengham Park last month

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Cllr Richard Stone added: ‘I live in an area that has constant incursions of this type and I too hope that this will be done across the borough as soon as possible.’

Councils are required by law to assess the accommodation needs of all people living in the local area, including gypsies and travellers.

Police talking to travellers in Mengham Park in May

The Hampshire Consortium Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) identifies the required provision of pitches across seven council areas between 2016-2036.

For Havant, the report identified the need for one pitch between 2016-2021 for a household living on an unauthorised site.

However, for the rest of the GTAA period, no new sites will be provided, meaning there are no lawful accommodation options for gypsies and travellers in Havant Borough.

Gypsies and travellers are the most disadvantaged minority group in England with shorter life expectancies, high child mortality rates and low educational attainment.

Friends, Families and Travellers (FF&T) is a national charity that works to end racism and discrimination against gypsy, Roma and traveller people while protecting their right to pursue a nomadic lifestyle.

An FF&T spokesperson said: ‘There is a nationwide shortage of suitable stopping places for people living nomadically.

‘Stopping places can bring about harmony between communities and enable gypsy or traveller people to access healthcare and sanitation services.

‘Spending time and money deciding where people can’t go instead of where they can is nothing short of wasteful cruelty.

‘Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.’