Last month, Inside Housing reported that only 101 of the 597 Traveller pitches allocated government funding in England since 2012 have managed to secure planning permission. Without permission, it is unlikely any of the remainder will go ahead; another broken promise in the ongoing struggle for adequate Traveller accommodation in the UK.
My strategic advice to the sector, is to seek to find common cause with local government to make the case to central government to stop or at least mitigate the impact of further cuts; to expose the human and financial implications of the Government's welfare 'reforms'; and to argue for greater localism with more devolved responsibility and resources to localities.
The author of Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne, once said that 'organising is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up'. This coalition government has demonstrated a boldly pragmatic and non-ideological mindset since taking office. Nevertheless, there is a danger that on planning, the Government is ideologically dismissing an integrated approach in favour of extending responsibility to communities. Localism is great for running a local park, but it cannot provide integrated national solutions to the big environmental challenges facing the UK.
Seven months is a long time in legislation. It was only last December that the Localism Bill was published amid a fanfare of radical decentralisation, communities "in control" and a "power shift" to those who know their areas best. New radical rights to draw up neighbourhood plans were unveiled and communities pricked up their ears and wondered.