750 New Traveller Pitches Approved In Effort To Avoid Repeat Of Dale Farm Eviction

More than 750 new and improved authorised pitches for traveller families were given the green light by the Government today as part of efforts to avoid a repeat of the Dale Farm stand off.

Ministers have signed off on bids totalling £47 million from councils and other providers across England - with bids also being taken for another £13 million of funding.

In total 33 providers - 18 local councils and 15 housing associations - have been granted funding for 617 new and 167 improved pitches.

Only one of the new sites will be located in London. In the Midlands 16 new sites and 178 pitches have been approved, with 17 each in the North East (131 pitches) and South West (161 pitches).

The Government hopes that boosting provision - alongside action to tackle unauthorised encampments - will help defuse tensions between settled and traveller communities.

A decade-long dispute over the UK's largest unauthorised site at Dale Farm in Essex ended in violent clashes between police and protesters in October when the residents were evicted.

Communities Minister Andrew Stunell said: "This funding will help provide sites in a way that reflects local need in consultation with the local community.

"It will assist hundreds of traveller families find sites where they want to live and foster better relations with the existing communities and councils.

"We are ending the failed system where Whitehall attempted to dictate where sites went. Instead we have brought back fairness by ensuring that both travellers and the settled population are treated equally. New authorised sites, with the support of local communities, will be treated on an equal footing as new bricks and mortar homes, with councils getting powerful financial benefits for building authorised sites where they are needed."