Isaac Blake of the Romani Cultural and Arts Association in Wales has led community concerns about the impact of two pieces of legislation which are having and likely to have a negative and differential impact on the lives and livelihoods of Gypsies and Travellers.
Two meetings with Welsh Government and with police and council officials on the Control of Horses (Wales) Bill and the Scrap Metal Act 2013 respectively have taken place in recent weeks chaired by Julie Morgan AM. The lack of consultation, equality impact assessments (at UK, Wales and local level) and lack of information and engagement with Gypsies and Travellers have been strongly criticised.
The Control of Horses (Wales) Bill has gone through a ‘fast track’ legislative process at the National Assembly omitting Stage 1 where committee would normally scrutinise the general principles of a bill - it’s likely to receive royal assent and become law in Wales in January 2104. There is an action plan and guidance being developed for which the Minister has now committed to consultation on with Gypsies and Traveller horse owners.
The UK Scrap Metal Act 2013 which became law on the 1st December does not allow for any further consultation – at a Wales level we will be working with local authorities to encourage them to work collaboratively to make the new procedures as affordable and accessible for Gypsies and Travellers who work as scrap dealers as possible.
However in the meantime the reality is that many are finding their livelihoods are threatened and police have already used the new Act to target Gypsy and Traveller sites in south Wales.
Anyone with information or concerns please get in touch with ourselves or with Isaac Blake directly. Anyone needing advice please get in touch and we will aim to put you in touch with someone who can offer support.
A really useful guide for Gypsies and Travellers on the Scrap Metal Act which became law on the 1st December has been published by STAG group in London - you can see it here