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Campaign against change to gypsy status gains momentum

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Almost 6,000 people have put their name to a new petition which has asked the Government to reconsider proposals to change the definition of “gypsy” status and the way it is applied in planning matters.

Campaigners believe that the approach will make it far more difficult for Gypsies and Travellers to win approval for new caravan sites and give councils reason to “artificially reduce” the number of pitches they intend to make available in their local area.

Shay Clipson, from the National Alliance of Gypsy, Traveller & Roma Women, is very concerned about the implications of the new laws and decided to start the petition on the 38 Degrees website.

In an accompanying statement, she made the point that there was already a “dire shortage” of appropriate accommodation and the law currently making its way through the House of Commons will only exacerbate the situation.

“Similar to the common racist refrain more often found on online comment threads about us – according to this government, if we don’t ‘travel’ then we can’t possibly be Gypsies and Travellers. Already councils are sending out researchers who are trying to get us to fill in forms with detailed and intrusive questions about our ‘travelling’ habits.

“If we don’t have ‘gypsy status’ we may no longer develop and build a Gypsy and Traveller site and we may even lose our place on an existing public or private legal traveller site.”

In addition to the petition, a march is scheduled to take place in Parliament Square on May 21st.

At Lester Morrill, our solicitors are highly experienced in working with the Roma and Gypsy Traveller community and have acted in a number of high profile cases across the country, including Dale Farm and Meriden. To find out more about how our Public Law team can assist you, please contact us today.