Frequently asked questions about Gypsies and Travellers

The aim of this information is to set out how the Council and other official agencies will work to balance the rights of all those involved.

Does the Council have a duty to move Gypsies/Travellers when they are camped without the landowner's permission?

No. If Gypsies/Travellers are camped on Council land, the Council can take action to repossess their land.

If they are on private land, it is the landowner's responsibility. The Government has advised that when Gypsies/Travellers are not causing a nuisance, the site should be tolerated.

If Gypsies/Travellers camp on private land, what can the landowner do?

Talk to them to see if a leaving date can be agreed.
Take proceedings in the County Court under the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 to obtain a Court Order for repossession of the land. There must be a minimum of two clear days, not counting Saturdays or Sundays, between serving the documents on the caravan dwellers the Court hearing.

What if the landowner decides to let them stay on the land temporarily?

Unless the landowner has already obtained planning permission for a caravan site then they could be in breach of Planning and caravan site legislation. Further advice is available from the Gypsy Liaison Service who deal with unauthorised encampments.

If the landowner fails to take action to remove the Gypsies/Travellers, what will the Council do?

If the landowner is in breach of any planning or license requirements then the Council may take proceedings against the landowner to require removal of the encampment. Whether the Gypsies/Travellers are causing a nuisance or not is an important factor in this case.

I have seen Gypsies/Travellers camping on the side of the road and sometimes on parks or other Council-owned land, what can the Council do in these cases?

The Council will consider each case on its merits. In all cases the site is visited and every effort made to make sure that the Gypsies/Travellers keep the site tidy and do not cause public health problems and/or distress to local residents. Any sites that are located on the highway are dealt with by the police.

Can the Council remove Gypsies/Travellers from their land immediately?

No, the Council must:

  • show that the Gypsies/Travellers are on the land without consent; 
  • make enquiries regarding their general health, welfare and children's education; 
  • ensure that the Human Rights Acts 1998 has been fully complied with; 
  • follow a set procedure in terms of proving ownership of land and details of the unauthorised encampment.

How long will it take for the Gypsies/Travellers to be removed?

This will depend upon the circumstances of each individual case and any court decisions. The Council needs to take account of the issues outlined above, as well as how soon they can obtain a Court hearing date.

Can the Court refuse to grant the Council an order to move Gypsies/Travellers on?

Yes. If there is a reason for the Gypsies/Travellers to stay on the site or if the Court believes that the Council have failed to make adequate enquiries regarding the general health and welfare of the Gypsies/Travellers.

Does the council provide sites where the Gypsies/Travellers can stay where facilities are provided for them?

We have two fixed sites that provide pitches for caravans.

Does the council offer any services to prevent Gypsies/Travellers occupying land they don’t own?

If asked by landowners, our officers can advise them on measures that they can take to defend the land against future occupation. A similar service is available to any landowner who fears that their land may be occupied and needs assistance and advice on how to prevent this.

What does the Gypsy Liaison team do?

Two permanent gypsy sites are managed by a site manager and gypsy liaison officer. We also provide a sensitive liaison service and monitor unauthorised sites. If travellers occupy unauthorised council-owned land, enforcement action is taken in appropriate cases. In all cases, travellers are first asked informally to leave.

Contact details

Gypsy Liaison Service
Britannia House
West Yorkshire

Phone : 01274 434405
Fax : 01274 740839
West Yorkshire Police - Telephone : 101
Email :

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