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Durham County Council

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Gypsies, Roma and Travellers encampments

Gypsies, Roma and Travellers have a long established history as part of our community in County Durham. The Public Sector Equality Duty requires the council to advance race equality, eliminate discrimination and foster good relations.

We have six permanent sites in County Durham:

  • Adventure Lane, West Rainton, Houghton- le-Spring, Durham, DH4 6PW
  • Ash Green Way, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, DL14 6RS
  • Drum Lane, Birtley, Chester-le-Street, County Durham, DH3 2AF
  • East Howle, Ferryhill, County Durham, DL17 8SA
  • St Phillip's Park, Coundon, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, DL14 8XG
  • Tower Road, Maiden Law, Stanley, County Durham, DH9 7XR

Unauthorised encampments on our land

We manage all unauthorised encampments on our land in County Durham. This involves:

  • Visiting each unauthorised encampment to make an initial assessment and making follow-up visits as necessary.
  • Initiating and undertaking a welfare assessment. If welfare needs are identified then the assessment will be ongoing.
  • On areas that are considered suitable the presumption will be that the unauthorised encampment will be accepted for a period of time which will be negotiated with those camping. On areas that are unsuitable, a temporary stop over area may be offered, if one is available. 

The following will be put in place:

  • Arranging to provide facilities for an unauthorised encampment, where appropriate.
  • Negotiating the length of stay according to our unauthorised encampments procedures.
  • Liaising between the Gypsies and Travellers, councillors, the settled community and other agencies and key partners.
  • Keeping accurate records about each unauthorised encampment (by household).
  • Arranging Encampment Review Group meetings where joint-decision making occurs.

Any agreed length of stay will be dependent on campers adhering to our Code of Conduct for unauthorised encampments. We comply with Government guidance and the legislative framework when managing unauthorised encampments that occur on our land. 

Unauthorised encampments procedure

We have an Unauthorised Encampment Procedure (PDF, 131kb) in place for the management of unauthorised encampments.

Encampment Review Group Meetings

We have established Encampment Review Group (ERG) meetings as part of its approach to managing unauthorised encampments. ERG meetings are called to advise and decide on the course of action where any unauthorised encampment is a cause for concern. The ERG consists of councillors, our staff and key partners such as the Police, and health services. The group works in accordance with the Communities and Local Government Guidance on managing anti-social behaviour related to Gypsies, Roma and Travellers.

Unauthorised encampments on private land

When an unauthorised encampment occurs on private land it is presumed that it will be the responsibility of the landowner to decide how they want to manage the encampment. Where we receive a report of an unauthorised encampment on private land, we will endeavour to establish who the private landowner is; give information about the date of arrival and number of caravans; and advise the private landowner of their responsibilities and what powers they have. Support material for unauthorised encampments on private and council owned land (PDF, 81kb) provides further information.