Cabinet members have approved the implementation of negotiated stopping agreements (NSAs) with the gypsy and traveller community following a Cabinet meeting, yesterday, Wednesday 20 July.
Dependent on the sensitivity of the land visited, this approach would mean that gypsy and travellers visiting North East Lincolnshire will be able to stay for a limited period of time, with the provision of limited services such as water, waste disposal and toilets, subject to agreeing a set of conduct principles.
Cabinet received an update to the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) at a meeting in June 2021, which revealed that there is no longer a Local Plan led requirement for permanent pitches or transient sites in the borough due to low numbers of unauthorised encampments and the existence of private transit pitches. A review of the Local Plan means that the Council is no longer required to find a designated stopping site (DSS).
Council officers have been in talks with other local authorities, Leeds City Council and Perth and Kinross Council, that are already piloting an NSA approach, to adapt it to meet the requirements of North East Lincolnshire Council.
An NSA approach would see agreements made between the Council and temporary residents outlining expectations on both sides.
As part of the agreement, a site cannot be re-visited by a group of travellers within a 12-month period, or be used for more than 14 days, to ensure that a site is not over-used.
Portable toilets and general waste facilities will be provided on the site on the understanding that the area will be cleared at the end of the stay. The agreement specifies the number of caravans and vehicles that will be allowed on site for the specified duration. The group sign up to the responsibility to keep the area clean and tidy, to always keep dogs under control, not to start any fires on the site, not to make any changes to the landscape, to ensure no environmental harm, inconvenience, or distress to surrounding residents and other people within the local vicinity, and to take all belongings with them at the end of their stay.
Councillor Stephen Harness, portfolio holder for finance, resources and assets, said: “Negotiated stopping agreements will strengthen the existing arrangements that support the gypsy and traveller communities who visit the area, seeing an improved offer. We want to work in partnership with the travelling community and also provide assurance to the wider community on the management of their visits.
“This approach would mean that a group of gypsy or travellers residing on particularly sensitive land illegally can temporarily be moved on to a more appropriate area of land swiftly, where they can stay for up to 14 days. If an agreement cannot be reached, the usual legal process will be followed to evict them from their unauthorised encampment.”