Gypsies and Travellers

For planning purposes Gypsies and Travellers are defined as:

"Persons of nomadic habit of life whatever their race or origin, including such persons who on grounds only of their own or their family's dependents' educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily or permanently, but excluding members of an organised group of Travelling Showpeople or circus people travelling together as such."(Planning Policy for Traveller sites, CLG, March 2012.)

Within the main definition are a number of cultural groups, including:

  • Romany gypsies
  • Irish Travellers and
  • New Travellers

Romany Gypsies and Irish travellers are recognised in law as distinct ethnic groups and legally protected from discrimination under the Equalities Act 2010.

We try to avoid generalisation and stereotyping but for ease of working we often see Gypsies or Irish Travellers as those with modern, good quality vehicles who visit mainly urban areas to ply their various trades. They are often highly mobile and stay for relatively short periods of time. However some do stay longer when they can find a site to use as a base.

'New' or 'New Age' Travellers may be recognised by the assortment of vehicles in which they live. They may travel in search of seasonal employment or summer festivals but will usually want to stay on a site for a long period of time while their children attend local schools or while they repair their vehicles. They often have limited resources so moving from site to site can be a problem for them. There are now children of these families born on the road with no experience of house-dwelling.

All travellers, including New Travellers, have their right to roam protected by Human Rights Legislation, by the Housing Act 2004, the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and the Children's Act 2004.

Travelling Showpeople

Travelling Showpeople are defined as:

"Members of a group organised for the purposes of holding fairs, circuses or shows (whether or not travelling together as such). This includes such persons who on the grounds of their family's or dependent's more localised pattern of trading, educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily or permanently, but excludes Gypsies and Travellers as defined above."(Planning Policy for Traveller sites, CLG, March 2012.)

Although their work is of a mobile nature, Showpeople nevertheless require secure, permanent bases for the storage and repair of their equipment and to live when not on the road. In recent years many Showpeople have had to leave traditional sites, which have been displaced by other forms of development.

Many Showpeople are members of the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain and are required by the Guild to follow a strict code of practice regulating the use of their sites. Membership of the Guild provides Showpeople with exemption from the site licensing requirements of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 when they are travelling for the purpose of their business, or where they only occupy quarters for a period between the beginning of October and the end of March in the following year.