Sunday, 14 August 2016

St. Michael's Way

St. Michael is the name, chosen by travellers, that has been given to the city's first official travellers' site. Built over the last 2 years it has provided 12 new permanent pitches and 21 transit pitches at a cost of £70,000 per pitch, 74% of which was met by the Government. A significant proportion of that cost was probably absorbed in the expensive business of connecting up to the main drainage in Vale Avenue. This involved tunnelling under the A27. 

Transit pitches to the left; permanent to the right

Permanent pitches and community facilities.
Each permanent pitch consists of space for a static caravan and other vehicles, and an amenity block which includes a kitchen, bathroom and dayroom. The site also includes a management building for the council’s Traveller Liaison Team.

The pitches have all been allocated to Traveller families with a local connection  who will sign a lease, pay rent, council tax and other bills. Many of these previously occupied spaces on the transit site.

Transit pitches
The Council have a legal requirement to provide official sites for Gypsy and Traveller communities. They claim the freed-up transit pitches will help deal with unauthorised encampments in the city, as they can now request the police to use their powers under Section 62a to direct Travellers with the most need onto vacant pitches.

The site has only recently opened, so it is early days, but one wonders if it can possibly have any influence on the large number of summer travellers.  This influx is said to sometimes reach over 100 in number, many in expensive vehicles.  Will they be persuaded to move from free, comfortable, manicured, central parks, or the seafront, to the dull, northern outskirts? Presumably it all depends on the input of our over-stretched police force.

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