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  • The travelling community is transitory in nature. However, within the community there can be differences, with some members moving around the country more often than others. Due to the transitory nature of the travelling community, it can be difficult to establish the health needs of this population at any given time. This is illustrated by the ever changing number of caravans that are socially rented at Gateshead's Oakwell Park site in Felling. Over the last few years, the number of caravans has changed every six months from 34, in July 2012, to 20, 40, 34, 25, 27, 27, 23 and 4 in July 2016. The low number in July 2016 only illustrates that it can be difficult to know when those of the travelling community will be present in Gateshead at a point in time, however it should be noted that the site is currently operating at maximum capacity. [1] During this time there were no private caravans or unauthorised sites officially recorded, however, the caravan count has been criticised in the past for its inability to provide an accurate picture of unauthorised camping (perhaps due to its 'at a point in time' approach). In 2012 the Council identified 4 unauthorised encampments, but none after that. [2]Caravans Oakwell Park
  • Gateshead's Oakwell Park site has 20 pitches that can accommodate 40 caravans. It provides access to amenity blocks, toilets, a water supply, showers and space for cooking and laundry. There is also a play area for children. A past needs assessment showed that the majority of residents thought that the facilities were good and all viewed the management of the site in a positive light. [3]
  • A health visitor and the Traveller Education Service make regular visits to the site. They have identified that all primary age and where possible secondary children are in full-time education and there are no specific issues regarding housing requirements. [2] It is also believed that all children are registered with a GP.
  • There are no overcrowded households on the site and there are no concealed households that would need independent accommodation. There is no current need for more social rented or private pitches in Gateshead. [2] We have a private residential caravan site at Bewick Main with traveller families on the site.
  • Transit pitches address the needs of households travelling through the area, families visiting, or vulnerable families who have been moved on from authorised or unauthorised sites locally. The level of unauthorised encampments is used as an indicator of need for transit pitches, and as mentioned above, in Gateshead the number of unauthorised encampments has reduced significantly in recent years, suggesting that there is no need for transit pitches. [2]

    [1] DCLG, Count of Traveller Caravans, July 2016 (GOV.uk website)

    [2] Gateshead/Newcastle Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Study, February 2014 (Gateshead Council Core Strategy Examination Documents website)

    [3] Tyne and Wear Gypsy and Traveller and Travelling Showpeople Accommodation Needs Assessment by Brown P, Hunt L, Condie J, 2008