The law empowering local authorities in England to remove Travellers from unauthorised encampments: a critique

Wilkinson, Michele (2019) The law empowering local authorities in England to remove Travellers from unauthorised encampments: a critique. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis presents a critical evaluation of the enforcement powers of Local Authorities (LAs) in their resolution of disputes with Travellers. The thesis argues that the current legal powers of LAs, while effective in removing Travellers from unauthorised encampments in the short term, are ineffective in the longer term because they do not deal adequately with the reality of Travellers’lives.Predominately drawing upon the critique of public law developed by Loughlin the thesis suggests that the development of the powers of LAs to remove unauthorised encampments demonstratesthe protection of the powerful (land owners) at the expense of the weak (Travellers) and the covert desire of the State to assimilate Travellers into the settled communities. Throughout, the thesis seeks to demonstrate that public law and politics are intertwined and that LAs are not making decisions on unauthorised encampments in a vacuum. Exploring the concept of ‘toleration’,the thesis contends that LAs choose notto tolerate Travellers in order to deal with unauthorised encampments in a way that responds to political and local pressures.The thesis explores the limited defences available to Travellers to protest against their removal, including their rights under human rights and equalities legislation. The thesis questions the relevance of the concept of ‘home’ for Travellers on unauthorised encampments when considering the potential protections offered by human rights law. In considering the impact of equalities legislation,the thesis criticises the distinction made between different groups of Travellers on the basis of their ethnicity.However, given that few cases are actually contested,the thesis explores the extent to which LAs are influenced by the very existence of human rights and equality law and the ways in which these provisions may constrain LA action.Drawing upon empirical data, predominantly gained from a study of a range of LAs in 2014, the thesis investigates the ways in which law is employed in practice in the resolution of local disputes involving Traveller encampments. The thesisconcludes that the current legal provision is inadequate in that it merely displaces the issue of dealing with unauthorised Traveller encampments from one area to another. The thesis offers some proposals for ways forward in order to ameliorate the situation for both sides.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Law
Subjects: K Law > KD Law of the United Kingdom and Ireland > KD8850 Local laws of England
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 13 May 2019 10:46
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2021 08:30
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/83515

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