A judicial review submission filed against Thanet Council on behalf of the families of Pavee Travelers at Ramsgate Port will be heard on April 6.
The request for review was filed late last year for violation of human rights regarding the conditions and treatment of families who have been living at the port since the end of last May.
Four eviction attempts were made by Thanet Council but were unsuccessful.
Thanet District Council originally appeared in Magistrates Court on May 27 last year seeking an eviction order for the Palm Bay group. This failed on welfare grounds and the council was asked by the court to provide an alternative site. The Port of Ramsgate has been identified as being able to provide facilities whilst outside of a residential area.
The court’s decision was made due to the poor health of some members of the group, including a baby and a child.
Notice was then served on some of the Pavee families at the site which has been used as an agreed stopping point since the end of May. Thanet’s council said this was due to a “new group” traveling without permission, although representatives from the Gypsy and Traveler Coalition said they were all part of the same family and added that some notices had been served two days after the death of a two-day-old baby. among the group,
An eviction hearing at Margate Magistrates’ Court on October 1 has been adjourned to November 9. It was again adjourned for the bench to consider the legal points raised by family representatives on the port, then adjourned again due to the application for judicial review.
The review hearing will take place at the High Court in London before Madam Justice Laing on April 6.
The Pavee Families, backed by members of Ramsgate City, District and County Council and the Gypsy and Traveler Coalition, seek to show that Thanet Council has failed in its duty of care and treated the families in accordance with the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act.
In the past 10 months, families say trash cans and portable toilets have not been emptied for weeks, electricity and water have been cut, the site is exposed to the elements and several adults and children became very ill with two year olds and a 16 year old recently hospitalized with gastric infections.
Support counselors including Karen Constantine, Becky Wing, Raushan Ara, Mike Garner and Anne-Marie Nixey say there are fears a large-scale infection could break out due to poor sanitation with only five toilets and two showers for the 70 people based there.
Families also suffered during Storm Eunice in February, with metal fences being blown down by the high winds and many people choosing to shelter in their cars for safety rather than in their caravans.
Cllr Constantine said: “Over the past 10 months we have politely and persistently asked Thanet Council to meet with us to discuss how to meet the needs of travelers staying at the port. They have been granted the right to remain on the site, but the council have so far failed to carry out their duty of care, or treat them in accordance with the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act. ‘man. Instead, TDC worked to seek to deport them. They have now failed to do so four times.
“The constant cycle of eviction and forced displacement is simply detrimental to their health and well-being. Now that travelers have settled in the port, they receive health care and some children can now go to school.
“Our solicitor Micheal Imperato is in the High Court before Mrs Justice Laing, Senior High Court Judge, on the morning of 6th April. We are also very pleased to be represented by Garden Court Chambers who have an impressive history of cases winners and overthrown great injustices.
“Garden Court Chambers is one of the highest ranked law firms committed to fighting injustice, defending human rights and upholding the rule of law. Our attorney is Tim Baldwin who has tremendous knowledge of the law. Having spoken with Tim about the dreadful situation at the port, I know he will do his best.
“We will not stop fighting to guarantee the respect of these rights of Travelers. Thanet’s council should be mindful of meeting their needs, but also mitigating the need to spend public money defending expensive court cases. This is not what we want. But with only 5 toilets and 2 showers for 70 people, some of whom are in very bad shape, what choice do we have?
“This court case could have been avoided.”
A case is also being prepared against Kent County Council, Cllr Constantine said.
She added: “KCC is fully aware of the difficulties that continued poor access to healthcare has caused. We have very sick and sick people on this site and KCC, TDC and public health really need to treat this as a matter of urgency. So far they have failed.
“Other organizations involved in providing support and services to this group, such as Grange Surgery and a local school, have responded exceptionally well.”
In December, Thanet Council said facilities had been provided and officers had found no evidence of acute health needs.
A spokesman for Thanet Council said: ‘The council provided adequate facilities for two licensed families as some members had complex social needs. The facilities include several toilets, showers as well as a number of waste bins.
“On October 22, our officers carried out another round of wellness checks with the group and found no evidence of acute medical need. Additionally, no subsequent letter was provided to the council detailing the medical reasons why the group should continue to remain at the site. The board therefore has no obligation to provide facilities in these circumstances, especially as they come at a significant cost to the board.
“Ramsgate Port is not a suitable place for the long-term occupation of traveler camps. The council is however continuing to explore various options through the local plan process to find a solution for traveler encampments coming to Thanet.
“These include the possibility of a permanent site where travelers could stop temporarily for short periods, as well as family-sized plots which would allow smaller groups of caravans to stay longer term. This is an ongoing and complex process that will also require consultation.
Submission for government funding
A ‘call for sites’ for the updated Local Plan received no response in terms of offering land for the accommodation of Gypsies and Travellers.
However, Thanet Council is to apply for a £10million government fund announced last month to help councils provide improved transit sites and stopping areas as well as permanent sites.
The aim is to give traveling families easier access to local services, including health care, education and employment, as well as reduce the high costs of combating unauthorized encampments.
At a council meeting last Thursday (31 March), Chief Authority Cllr Ash Ashbee, responding to a question from Cllr Aram Rawf, said a decision had been made to apply to the fund, adding: “I am hopeful that a bid will be submitted by the June 13 deadline and if he is successful, which I very much hope, it will certainly help us find a solution to this problem in the future. long term sustainable.
Cllr Ashbee said it was a ‘priority’ for her to find a solution to the lack of public transport and permanent sites for gypsies and travellers.
There are 17 licensed sites for gypsies and travelers in Kent – 11 District Council sites and six run by County Council – but all are full with long waiting lists.
In December 2019 approval was given for works to assess Potten Street in St Nicholas-at-Wade, Tivoli Stream in Margate and Ramsgate Harbor for use as temporary tolerated stopping sites in Thanet.
Both Ramsgate Port and Tivoli Brook were removed from the plans in July 2020. The proposal for Ramsgate Port was dropped because it “was subject to a feasibility study and the proposed area is used for car storage and brings income, it is also an industrialized area and not suitable for families and young children.”