Gypsies & Travellers
Gypsies & Travellers are an ethnic minority, whose rights are protected from discrimination by the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Human Rights Act 1998, together with all ethnic groups who have a particular culture, language or values.
West Berkshire Council, as with all local authorities, has a range of statutory responsibilities concerning Gypsies & Travellers, which are delivered through a breadth of the services provided to the community. These broadly include accommodation, health, welfare and education, which are the rights of all individuals, including Gypsies & Travellers.
The Council's statutory responsibilities towards Gypsies & Travellers, including relevant policies and procedures, are fully explained in the recently adopted West Berkshire Gypsy, Traveller & Travelling Showpeople Policy, available in the 'Downloads' section to the right of this page.
One key issue now facing local authorities is that of unauthorised encampments or developments. Gypsies & Travellers live a nomadic lifestyle, which means that they often travel the country staying for various periods of time in different locations, in order to earn a living, visit family or friends or attend schools, doctors and dentists. This has been their way of life for many generations. Currently, there are too few permanent transit (or temporary) sites and stopping places across the country, which has led to Gypsies & Travellers moving onto land that they don't own.
The setting up of unauthorised encampments can lead to concerns and friction between landowners, the settled community and Gypsies & Travellers.
The frequently asked questions, available in the 'Downloads' section to the right of this page, aim to address some of these concerns.