Despite promises from both Wiltshire and Bath and NE Somerset Councils, it appears that the Government has ordered boat dwellers to be excluded from the two-yearly caravan count which took place on 27 January 2011.According to FOI responses from both Wiltshire and BANES, we were excluded because “the relevant Guidance Notes issued by Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) state … “
“2.2 Definition of a ‘caravan’
The Count should include:
1. all mobile homes, caravans, trailers and other living vehicles on Gypsy and Traveller and Travelling Showpeople sites and encampments, whether or not they meet the strict legal definition of a caravan
2. touring caravans on Gypsy and Traveller sites and encampments even if not lived in permanently
3. tents, benders or yurts where these are the ‘permanent’ living accommodation of Gypsies or Travellers
NOTE: Barges and houseboats are still to be excluded.”
The National Bargee Travellers Association has now made a complaint to the DCLG. In 2009 the DCLG stated that that ‘bargee travellers’, that is, travelling boat dwellers without a permanent residential mooring, are covered by Section 225 of the Housing Act 2004 which places a duty on local housing authorities to undertake regular assessments of the accommodation needs of ‘gypsies and travellers’. The Act requires local housing authorities to include the needs of ‘gypsies and travellers’ in any housing strategy they produce.
Caravan counts are important in local authorities’ assessments of the needs of travellers in their area so that adequate services (such as permanent and transit caravan sites) can be provided.