The dust is settling following the recent election and new people are now moving into important roles, both at a local and national level. Naturally some of these posts are of particular interest to Leeds GATE, namely those portfolios such as related to planning or communities, where their decisions may have a direct impact on the livelihoods of our members. Decisions are now being made on who many of these people are and we are anxious to start working positively with them. Read more
Most Councils, Leeds included, have a recognised unmet need for Traveller sites. Put simply they need to build more (and approve more private sites) and this needs to happen sooner rather than later. This brings us back again to question of how we approach the whole issue and indeed attitudes towards Gypsy and Traveller sites. There is a key question, which we cannot and should not shy away of posing; why are they really so bad? Read more
Leeds GATE notes with some regret that Andrew George MP, former chair of the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma – All Party Parliamentary Group, has lost his seat in the General Election 2015. There is much that might be said about how the election results will affect quality of life for Gypsy and Traveller people in the UK, but Andrew George no longer being in Parliament is without doubt a significant loss for our communities, as well as those in his constituency and elsewhere. We would like to offer many thanks to Andrew for all the excellent work he has done and wish him very best wishes for his future.
With less than a week to go until the elections, the chance to get your voice heard is now. After so many weeks of hearing, reading or watch about the campaign I appreciate that many people are already fed up with thinking or talking about. Let’s not forget though that this is an important opportunity for Gypsies and Travellers to express their hopes and views.
It is not simply about putting a cross in a box on Thursday, though that is important, but about making clear to candidates, the next councillors, MPs and Ministers, what matters to you and what you hope to see. That is why the Operation Traveller Vote campaign has been so great, driving a discussion about what it is that members care about, whether this is about sites, schools, health or Traveller rights more generally.
Candidates are still out fighting for support from their constituents and it is important to remind them (sad that this is necessary) that Gypsies and Travellers are part of the electorate and have strong, individual views. Some candidates have laudably been engaging with our members during this election campaign, either on site or elsewhere, though they sadly appear to be the exception to the rule. Still too few politicians seem to engage with Gypsies and Travellers.
Let us keep being proactive then, making clear to politicians what we want to see from them if they are in power in a weeks’ time. Please do take the opportunity to tweet #TravellerVote and make it known what will or would make you vote next week. If there is something you want to tell or ask the candidates in your area then now is the time, GATE can help you find out who they are and how to get in touch with them so just ask!
Although it is too late to register to vote there is a good chance that you will have automatically been registered if you in a house or on a recognised site. Again, just ask GATE and we can soon find out whether you can vote and if so where. Lastly, don’t forget that the conversation does not stop the day of the election; we need the new and re-elected politicians to know what Gypsy and Travellers want and that they are willing to fight for this far into the future.