Lack of sites in Leicester 'force Gypsies into houses'

Gypsies in Leicester say there is a desperate need for more sites where they can live.

Tracy Nedic, chairwoman of the Leicester Gypsy Council Liaison Group, said some Gypsies and travellers were being forced to live in houses.

Mrs Nedic said the adjustments people have to make to cope with the new lifestyle can make them ill.

The city council is consulting over three possible sites that could be allocated for Gypsies and travellers.

A public meeting at Mowmacre Hill on Tuesday had to be cancelled when about 400 people arrived at a hall with space for only 70 people.

Settle 'in winter'

Leicester Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said the meeting would be rearranged and the consultation period would be extended by two weeks to the middle of April.

"A lot of people are getting forced into houses because there are no sites and there's nowhere for them to go," Mrs Nedic said.

"People don't want to go into bricks and mortar.

"It's a shame really because it's causing ill health. It's like if someone lived in a house all their life and they had to go into a caravan. We find it really difficult adjusting to houses."

Mrs Nedic, who is originally from Scotland, spends her winters on the Rosevale Park site, in Hinckley where she decided to settle partly because her husband John has multiple-sclerosis.

"We settle in the winter and then we go away in the summer and a lot of people live like this now," she said.

"This is why there are more sites needed so people can set up home and not be on the side of the road."

'Keen' to integrate

Sir Peter said: "There were about 90 unauthorised encampments in Leicester in the past three years.

"We can't go on like this as it is not fair to local residents - and it costs a lot of money (to move the travellers on)," he said.

"By creating enough space in authorised, well-managed travellers' sites, we can help ensure they are properly run and secure sites, where residents will pay rent, council tax and charges for gas, electric and water."

Mrs Nedic said Gypsies and travellers are keen to integrate with settled communities.

"In this village where we live it's absolutely brilliant. Everybody talks to everybody and we really get on," she said.

The council opened its consultation on three possible locations in the north west of the city, at Greengate Lane, Beaumont Way and Red Hill Way last month.

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