The Council recognises and accepts the rights of Gypsies and Travellers to live a nomadic way of life and recognises Gypsies as a racial group.
The council also recognises Government Circulars/guidelines and its statutory duties with regard to Gypsy and Travellers families. When dealing with Unauthorised Encampment issues, it aims to ensure that all people in Kent feel they are part of an inclusive society, where all have equal access to services and other facilities. The Council confirms the commitment to equal opportunities for all residents and users of services, and to continue adopting services to meet the different needs of all communities.
The Council also recognises that all members of the community have the right to enjoy a quality of life that is free of harassment and offensive behaviour and is committed to use the law to tackle all forms of anti-social behaviour.
Various people live in caravans, mobile homes or vehicles on land they do not own, and without the agreement of the owner. Many are Gypsies or Travellers. Some travel long distances from their home base. Some only move locally. Some are working as they travel. Some are not. Some have lived all their lives on the road. Some cause difficulties to others, as they travel. Some do not. All should be judged by how they behave towards landowners and others, not by a stereotype or single view that others may have of Gypsies or Travellers generally. But, whatever the past history and tradition, encamping on someone's land without their consent is unlawful in itself. In certain circumstances, it is not just a breach of civil law, but also criminal law.
Public authorities in Kent are landowners themselves, manage land and must consider the rights and responsibilities of everyone living in their area. Public authorities have a duty to inform and assist everyone, as best they can.
Swale Borough Council is consulting on future Gypsy and Traveller site provision within the borough, including site specific proposals made up of existing sites and new proposed sites.