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Ofcom taken to court over Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

BFGW stars Sam and Pat pictured at a BAFTA awards party in 2011. Credit: PA

Gypsy campaigners are coming to the High Court over Ofcom's handling of their complaints about the Big Fat Gypsy Wedding television programmes.

The Traveller Movement, a charity supporting gypsies and travellers, has won permission to seek a judicial review against the communications watchdog.

It accuses Ofcom of conducting a flawed and biased investigation into accusations by the movement and eight individual women that the BFGW programmes perpetuated racist stereotypes.

They also complain the Channel 4 series broke broadcasting regulations regarding consent, sexually exploited traveller children and "caused untold harm to social cohesion" by reinforcing misconceptions and prejudices.

Ofcom has indicated it will defend its actions and contends the gypsy case is unarguable.

Councils 'take swift action against illegal camps'

The Local Government Association (LGA) has said councils already take swift action against illegal traveller camps, and provide sites and services for traveller communities.

An illegal traveller encampment inside the grounds of Eton college back in 2002. Credit: Press Association

Responding to the new guide issued for councils to enable them to take swifter action against illegal encampments, an LGA spokesperson said:

"Councils across the country are providing authorised legitimate sites and services for travelling communities.

“People who live nearby need to be given a say on whether land is appropriate for travellers, and that is precisely what the planning process is there to do.

“Local authorities take swift and robust action against anyone who breaks the rules by setting up camp on land without permission.”


Gypsy Council: Open season on ethnic minorities

The government has been accused of reinforcing "negative stereotypes" about travellers by the chairman of the Gypsy Council. Speaking on Sky News he said the new guide for councils contained no new information and accused the government of grandstanding:

It's creating tension, it's a negative thing to do. At the moment it seems like a theme. Recently we have had the Go Home campaign, then we have the bongo bongo thing going on.

It seems like open season on ethnic minorities.

Local authorities already know how to manage unauthorised encampments, they don't need the Government to tell them how to do it.

Pickles: Travellers do not need more sites

Travellers do not need more sites in the UK as these were already provided for in the local development plan, the Communities and Local Government Minister told Daybreak.

Eric Pickles dismissed accusations that his new policy, Temporary Stop Notices, exacerbated tensions with travellers by imposing unlimited fines on them for refusing to move if evicted.

It is part of a local development plan to provide sites. But that does not mean that in the same way as we would be down on a householder who decides to build on green belt, we would be down on a householder who decides to occupy public land and we are not going to treat travellers in a different way.

– Eric Pickles, Minister for Communities and Local Government

Councils 'do not need more powers' to evict travellers

Councils do not need more powers to move travellers on if they are causing problems, Romany journalist Jake Bower told Daybreak.

More safe sites for travellers to set up a temporary community in needed to be built if the two communities were to live peacefully side-by-side, he added.

There is not enough sites for people, so people are forced to park on places [like playing fields] so you have a culture that is brought into conflict....

What I would like to see the government do is less of the whip and more of the carrot. They can only solve this problem if they build....councils have more powers than they need to move travellers on.

It is making a moral case and a legal case.

– Jake Bower Romany journalist

Government releases guide on how to evict travellers

A new guide reminding local councils and land owners on how to deal with traveller encampments trespassing on someone else's land has been released by the Government.

Local councils are expected to get more powers to evict travellers. Credit: PA

The guide book includes advice on new Temporary Stop orders, which give councils power to tackle unauthorised caravans, backed up by potentially unlimited fines.

The Local Government and Communities department decided to release the book after 2011's Occupy movement brought into focus the difference between a peaceful protest and "the disruptive impact of the illegal occupation of land"


Police 'powerless' to recover stolen caravan

The £30,000 stolen caravan Credit: INS news agency

Officers say they are unable to retrieve a stolen caravan as they have "no powers" to remove the family of travellers now living in it.

Retired couple Michael Curry and Kathleen McClelland bought the £30,000 vehicle with all of their savings.

Michael Curry and Kathleen McClelland Credit: INS news agency

It was stolen from their home in Surrey in 2011, but the couple were in between insurance policies, so were not covered for the theft.

When Police found the caravan 18 months later they were unable to recover it from a family of travellers, who claimed they had bought it in a pub.