Their way of life means that they travel the country staying for various periods of time in different locations, in order to earn a living. This has been their way of life for many generations.
Does the council have a duty to move gypsies/travellers when they are camped without the landowner's permission?
No. If gypsies/travellers are camped on council land, the council can evict them. If they are on private land, it is usually the landowner's responsibility. The Government has advised that when gypsies/travellers are not causing a problem, the site may be tolerated. If travellers are camped on or at the side of a road, it is usually the responsibility of North Yorkshire County Council (as opposed to Scarborough Borough Council).
Talk to them to see if a leaving date can be agreed. Take proceedings in the County Court under the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 to obtain a Court Order for their eviction. There must be a minimum of two clear days between service of documents and the court hearing.
What if the landowner decides to let them stay on the land temporarily?
Unless the landowner has already obtained planning permission for a caravan site or is a farmer and the Gypsies/Travellers are helping with fruit picking etc., then the landowner could be in breach of the planning acts and the ccts dealing with the licensing of caravan sites. You may wish to seek further advice from the council’s Environmental Services, who initially deal with illegal encampments.
If the landowner fails to take the appropriate action to remove the gypsies/travellers, what will the council do?
If the landowner is in breach of any planning or license requirements, then the council will take proceedings against the landowner to require removal of the illegal encampment.
Can the council remove gypsies/travellers from their land immediately?
No, the council must:
show that the Gypsies/Travellers are on the land without consent;
make enquiries regarding the general health, welfare and children's education;
ensure that the Human Rights Acts 1998 has been fully complied with;
follow a set procedure in terms of proving ownership of land and details of the illegal encampment that will enable them to
successfully obtain the necessary authority from the Courts to order the Gypsies/Travellers to leave the site.
How long will it take for the gypsies/travellers to be removed?
This will depend upon the circumstances of each individual case. The Council will need to take account of the issues outlined above as well as how soon they can obtain a Court hearing date. This will normally take at least two to three weeks.
Can the court refuse to grant the council an order to move gypsies/travellers on?
Yes. If there is an unavoidable reason for the gypsies/travellers to stay on the site, or if the Court believes that the Council have failed to make adequate enquiries regarding the general health and welfare of the Gypsies/Travellers. The Council must try to find out this information before going to court.