Presumably, putting aside the politics, the meeting at Millmead was to discuss why has it taken over five years for GBC to achieve nothing for the Travellers, Gypsies and others living at Home Farm, Effingham, some of whom live without running water, proper toilet and washing facilities and BT land line. The latter is, of course, crucial for kids of school age these days, who need internet access.
Some may dismiss this archaic state of affairs as the norm but these Gypsy & Traveller families have been a feature of Effingham’s history for over 100 years; they settled in the village just after the Second World War. Their conditions have not improved much since then and GBC have a duty to ensure adequate living standards for all residents.
It is important to note that these families are already integrated into our community, their children attend our local schools, the older ones work locally. They are represented on Effingham Parish Council and attend a local liaison committee that was formed five years ago to update their pitches.
It was agreed, years ago, to add six pitches for local traveller families under the planning rules referred to as a ‘Rural Exception Site’. But GBC then removed their member of staff who was dealing with the improvements and changed direction. Briefly then:
The most senior members of GBC took a keen interest in producing results but the project to increase the number of pitches and improve living conditions hit a brick wall.
The highways department at Surrey County Council were concerned about additional traffic exiting onto the A246 with possible solutions seemingly lost in bureaucracy.
Confusion arose as to who owned which pieces of land, so GBC employed yet another consultant to look into ownership.
Two gypsy travellers became Gypsy & Traveller ambassadors for their community.
So why does nothing happen? It appears that no officer at GBC has actually been tasked with the necessary authority and motivation to make it happen.
The solution could be simple: employ one well-motivated council officer with the clout and backing from the Executive Committee at GBC to do the job.
Or do we have to wait another five years for nothing to happen?
The Gypsy and Traveller ambassadors,. On the left, Kelly King and on the right is Laura Gold. In the centre is parish councillor James Nichols. The photo was taken at the Millmead council offices in Nov 2013.
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