Gypsies, Tramps, and Land

This week twenty sites have been listed that could be potentially used to build new homes or used as campsites for travellers in the West Midlands area of England.

Gypsies, travellers, and the people who protest them, have been in the news a lot in recent months. Travellers need somewhere to pitch up their caravans and the local council is now… committed to allocating sustainable and affordable sites to meet the permanent residential needs of the district’s Gypsy and Traveller Community and Travelling Show People.

Having official sites for travellers to go to will definitely help with the problem of them taking over the land of private owners, but I’m a little confused about the council trying to meet the “permanent needs”. The whole point of travellers is that they travel; they do not have a permanent residence, they pitch up somewhere for a little while, and then move on. The fact that they want to use green belt land for these new traveller residencies is also confusing.

Green belt land refers to areas of open space, fields and meadows for example, which are preserved in order to maintain this green and pleasant land; to stop the entire country from becoming an immense, polluted city-scape. If rules are bent to allow travellers to have permanent residencies on green belt land, then what’s to stop other people and even the government from wanting to build on these areas too?

Surely if buildings and permanent residencies are going to be erected on any land, it should be for the poor, needy and homeless.

As a temporary location for travellers, using green belt land seems like a great idea, but for eternal establishments, I think that it will be the start of a slippery slope toward the urban scrawl that having green belt land is supposed to prevent. And when there are so many other people in desperate need of homes, it seems so wrong that travellers and gypsies are the top priority for one district council.

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