Stopping Places

An historic stopping place. Credit: York Explore

York’s Gypsy communities used to travel around the city to different areas, known as stopping places. Changes in the law and the increased speed of eviction notices has made this traditional way of life harder – but are there creative ways of planning for traditions of transit in the future?

Lorraine: The first time I remember staying in York, pulling into different places, was with me Mam and Dad. I’d be about nine or ten. We were always very clean. My mam would even sweep the fire and put some earth on top. Before we went onto James Street we used to stop on Poppleton Lane where the garden centre is now. Challaces, it used to be called. We also used to stop on Bad Bargain, Clifton Backies and we used to stop where Tesco’s now is. It wasn’t Tesco’s then it was just the aerodrome. From one area of the town to the other, but just on the edges where it was countrified.

Kally: What happened is they built James Street and it ruined the Travellers. We’d have been better on what we called the Tip. Even after we’d moved on the James Street, we’d still duck up on Back Bargain fields. We had a better lifestyle, we were much healthier and much happier. None of these problems with the Council on your back. Because on the Tip they never evicted you off, Sugar Beet they never evicted you off. They were the two main stopping points.

Lorraine: All the way up to Jewson was common land. We used to stop on common land, we’d stop on car parks. We were on there we were on the tip — it was common land. James Street, was just a tip. They never really came after you on the Gas Works Car Park either.

Kally: They didn’t have any plans for it.

Lorraine: But as soon as plans start going…

Kally: …we’d have started getting eviction notices.

Lorraine: In time we would.

Kally: I remember we pulled on the Clifton Backies and we stopped, we got evicted and they took us to court. They came a took us off and you know where they took us, to Malton Road that café, they moved us there, they towed us away to Malton Road.

Christine: They must have taken you into Rydale local authority area as it was.

Lorraine: So they took you from one area to another Council’s area, ‘so that was their problem then’

Debi: How long were you there for?

Kally: Not long because we moved back into York.

Lorraine: They’d done a court order and they evicted you, but then you came back and it was then another six week’s process to get you out.

Kally: So we moved somewhere else in York. They moved us on, we stopped overnight, then went back to the York, the Tip after that. The Tip was always there but you’d get bored. People would just get bored so we would maybe go to Bad Bargain and then it was back to the Terrace car park.

Lorraine: You’d be lucky if eviction takes 24 hours today. There were Christmas time camps, any holiday time we waited until it was all clear and then all pull on, even if you had to wait until 8pm at night. If you went on just before Christmas you’d know that they wouldn’t come after you until after new year. The law changed that was why we all put our names down to stay on James Street. We did a big campaign but they said we wouldn’t be allowed to stop up and down. So those that live around this town, we all put our names down for the sites.

Being able to travel for work or to attend dances and fairs was a traditional part of Gypsy life which has been made harder in recent years. Yet there are creative possibilities from transit sites which enable short stays through to negotiated stopping, as they do in Leeds, where the Local Authority works with Gypsy families and local resident to broker short term agreements.

In the Local Plan there is a provision protecting York’s historic environment. But  can we also start to see different ways of life and traditions – as part of the city’s heritage?

 

Floods 2015: ‘the whole city came together’

The line the James Street flood is visible as a dark line line on building Credit: Lorraine Mulvenna

On Boxing Day 2015 York experienced the worst floods since 2000. When the Foss Barrier failed an area very badly affected was James Street, the home to one of the city’s Gypsy and Traveller Sites. Many people and businesses showed enormous support for those that were affected and for a time ‘the whole city came together’.

Kally: On Boxing Day the water just come up through the drains, like it does often do. We thought, ‘nah, it won’t get that bad’. We didn’t know what was going on around us. There is a man on the site who has a house phone and around 1am, he had a phone call and shouted out to us all, ‘get off the camp because it’s going to flood’. That night we just sat out the front of the site.

Denise: The next day people we know started to help. There was a man we knew in the houses near James Street called Alan, who has a boat. He is my daughter’s best friend’s father. He came round in his boat. He stayed all day until it dropped dark, going backwards and forwards, getting things for people out of the site.

Kally: There was also an old man and woman from the nearby houses who fetched teas for us.

Denise: Morrisons were really good. They said we could go in and get some things for the kids like PJ’s, underwear, socks and shoes. They also brought out bags of shopping for us.

Morrisons also said ‘go to the café and get a warm meal’. Nestles was good as well, they sent chocolate and coffee. The Catholic Traveller’s Group donated funds to Dunelm for us to get bedding. Joe Windas did some fundraising via facebook and organised two fundraising nights.

Kay: Someone at the York Traveller’s Trust offices went out for Fish and Chips and came back with mounds and mounds of fish and chips. People were sending hot sandwiches in to us too.

Kally: When people were walking past the site, they’d stop and say, do you need help? The full city came together, for a while.

Helen: What happen after the floods and during the clear up? Where were you living?

Kally: I was living in Malton. I was in a dark and lonely place in Malton, I was still with my child but not with my family or the community. I was thinking, am I going to get a home to James Street or am I going to be struggling to put something together? The Two Ridings charity gave money, if it wasn’t for them and their support to get the chalet sorted out, I’d still be struggling.

Helen: Given the flooding, do you thinking James Street worth fighting for?

Lorraine: Yes, as a camp and a community it is worth fighting for. It is probably the best situated camp in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland too. You don’t need a car, you can walk everywhere, bus routes, schools over road, schools up the road. But the situation it is now, unless they improve the drains or heighten us up, that we are left with the threat of being flooded, we are living with that over our heads all the time.

York Traveller’s Trust thanks everyone that donated or helped out during the aftermath of 2015 flood.  See the website if you’d like to support York Traveller’s Trust in their work on future flood prevention.

My York Central

Like our previous work at Castle Gateway, My York Central goes beyond conventional community consultation by enabling all those interested to become part of a sustained long-term conversation where influence comes through sharing responsibility for the area and its future. Throughout we are working to make getting involved will be active, challenging and fun. In our approach to York Central we are building the approach developed for My Castle Gateway.

The way we’re approaching this for York Central is through a Festival of York Central in March and April 2018. You can see the various events here.

Our approach includes:

  • Build a brief: Start with the personal… and make different people’s needs and ideas visible (and our thoughts on the value of a good brief can be read here)
  • Explore Challenges: Cultivate a grown up and sophisticated public debate about complex issues (an example from My Castle Gateway here)
  • Make change together: Facilitate community networks and local action as well as long term community influence in decision-making, design and delivery.

#CitizenMedia #York: How can we create a positive democratic culture online?

How can we use online spaces to have good conversation about the future of York?

#CitizenMedia #York: How can we create a positive democratic culture online?
Thursday, 15th March, 7.30-9.30

Throughout the Castle Gateway process, we’ve used social media to seek open conversations. Sometimes this has worked well and great ideas and thought-provoking stories have emerged. At other times we’ve not quite known how to respond, or how turn to cynicism, frustration and anger into to constructive discussion. We’ve also met some people who have said they simply don’t engage in debates about York online for fear of personal attacks and sniping. The danger is we all retreat into our own silos of people who think like we do and the sense of a shared public sphere where ideas are shared, debated and exposed to challenge is lost.

We invite you to join us to explore whether there is another way of having debates about York through Facebook, twitter and in the comments on the York Press. How might social media become a space for us as citizens to engaged in debate about our city? How can we shift the emphasis in local debate from what is wrong and what is hated towards people being able to positively contribute what they want to see? How can social media discussion support democratic culture in York and feed into local decision-making?

The objectives of our first workshop are to:

” Explore techniques for engaging well on social media
” Create a community of people prepared to go out there and try some new techniques and then feedback on how it goes, so we can all learn from the experience

Places are limited to 12. To book a place email Helen on h.graham@leeds.ac.uk
Organised by My Future York and Coaching York