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Information for Gypsies and Travellers

Does Three Rivers District Council provide authorised transit accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers to stay on?

At the moment there are no available authorised transit sites in the District for you to stay on. The council intends to work closely with neighbouring authorities to assess the need for such sites and the most appropriate location for establishing transit accommodation.

As part of this work we will be seeking to speak to members of the Gypsy and Traveller community to get a clearer understanding of their accommodation requirements. If you would like to take part in this study or would like us to consider a piece of land for a site, please contact Claire May for further information on 01923 727106.

Local Authority Sites – Hertfordshire County Council

Hertfordshire County Council's Gypsy Section has been in existence for over 30 years. The present team of 14 staff manages and maintains accommodation for some 200 families on various sites. These services are funded from the rents collected from these sites.

Currently there are 10 permanent and 1 transit  local authority sites administered by Hertfordshire County Council, these are located outside Three Rivers District in Cheshunt, Tring, Hemel Hempstead, Watford (2), Barnet (Transit), St Albans (2), Redbourn, Stevenage and Hatfield.

You can apply to go on the waiting list for these sites. However, there is a low turnover of pitch availability, and usually a long waiting time for those seeking accommodation on these sites.

For current site availability please contact Hertfordshire County Council: 01707 897367

Private Sites

You can seek guidance from Three Rivers District Council's Development Management Service. 

You can also call the Royal Planning Institute Tel. 020 76369107, or Planning Aid Tel. 0870 8509801 for advice.

Housing

For free advice, contact Three Rivers District Council Housing Advice Team on Tel. 01923 776611.

What happens if I set up an unauthorised encampment?

If you set up an unauthorised encampment, the people you are likely to encounter will depend on the type of land you are on.

If you are on privately owned land then it could be the landowner who first visits you, however, if the landowner reports trespass to the Police, it might be the Police you first meet.

If the landowner is Three Rivers District Council, a Council Officer will visit you. Three Rivers District Council does not employ a Traveller Liaison Officer. However, Hertfordshire County Council does have a Liaison Officer who can be contacted for further information.

You will be asked questions about your situation, your health and welfare, and if you need any other support. Unless anyone in your group has specific needs, Three Rivers District Council may take legal action.

If the landowner is Hertfordshire County Council, or your camp is on a Right of Way or a Highway, an officer or agent representing the County Council will visit you.

What legal action might be taken if I set up an unauthorised encampment?

Legal action will most likely result in a civil court order for possession, which will be posted at the site and enforcement will follow. If private landowners act under Common Law Powers (using their common law rights to recover land) eviction of those engaged in trespass can be quickly undertaken (bailiffs can be present within hours). The landowners may conduct proceeding under Part 55 Civil Procedures Rules, which offers a relatively quick avenue to deal with unauthorised camping through the civil courts enabling the landowner to regain possession of his/her land.

Local Authorities have the power under Section 77 of the Criminal justice and Public Order Act 1994 to direct unauthorised campers to leave any land within the Local Authority's area. Should they fail to comply with this direction, Local Authorities can under Section 78 of the Act, go to court and seek an order from the Local Justices, which allows the removal of campers, you will normally be allowed to be heard in either of these proceedings.

Local Authorities can also regain possession of land by pursuing a claim for possession through the County Courts under Part 55 as above, Court Bailiffs will then be used to remove trespassers from the land once a possession order has been granted.

Whilst trespass is a civil matter, if the group's behaviour offends against the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, or if there is evidence of criminal activity, Hertfordshire Police can take action.

Under Section 61 of the 1994 Act the Police have the power to direct trespassers to leave the land. Furthermore, under Section 62 A-E of the Act they can direct trespassers to leave land where there is suitable pitch availability.