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County council will manage travellers' site in London
OXFORDSHIRE County Council is planning to look after travellers living in a London borough.
It has been asked to help Ealing Council, in west London, look after its travellers site as part of the increasing number of sites it manages across the country.
It will mean the county council will be responsible for managing Ealing’s Bashley Road site, organising any repairs, helping collect rents and granting licences to occupiers of individual pitches. It will also be responsible for managing unauthorised encampments in the borough.
It already manages traveller sites in Buckinghamshire and Brent as well as in Oxfordshire.
John Jackson, the county council’s director for social and community services, said: “The council’s gypsy and traveller service has a strong reputation as a result of its track record in providing effective site management services both within and outside of Oxfordshire.
“Positive feedback has been received from both Buckinghamshire County Council and Brent Housing Partnership on the services provided.”
The Bashley Road travellers’ site was developed in 1985 and is owned by Ealing Council. It houses travellers of Irish heritage and is made up of 24 pitches.
In Oxfordshire there are 89 pitches at six county council-managed sites, the largest of which is Redbridge Hollow near Oxford.
If the agreement is signed off by county councillor Louise Chapman, the cabinet member for policy co-ordination, on Monday, it will mean Oxfordshire will charge Ealing enough money to cover the cost of its services.
No extra staff will need to be hired during the length of the three-year contract, but Oxfordshire County Council staff would visit the London site “on a number of occasions during the week.”
The local authority has been helping out at Ealing on an “informal basis” since April last year and has been charging an hourly rate for the services.
Oxfordshire County Council did not provide information on how much they had made from the informal arrangement, or how much they were expecting from the agreement.
As part of the new formal arrangement, the county council will help residents of the site access any services they are entitled to and work with other departments of Ealing Council to manage the site.
It will also investigate reports of unauthorised encampments, assessing the size and impact of the encampment and the welfare needs of those involved.
In the UK there are two distinct ethnic minority groups within the travelling community, one is Roma Gypsies and the other is Irish Travellers.
Oxfordshire County Council has a duty of care to all gypsies and travellers within the county.
County council spokesman Paul Smith said it would make money from the contract, but the amount has not been agreed.
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