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SCRUTINEER - ODD JOB

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Gavin Missons, Housing standards officer ...
Gavin Missons, Housing standards officer

Gavin Missons is a housing standards officer for Sevenoaks DC, but his job is not about monitoring housing estates or blocks of flats.

He deals with all the residential mobile homes and caravan sites in the area and any unauthorised camps. There are 12 large residential mobile home parks and many small caravan sites and holiday parks in the district.

'The majority of my work is handling the licensing of mobile home sites and maintenance of standards. Even for a single caravan on private land the owner may have to apply for planning permission if someone is going to live there. There are legal requirements that have to be applied, mostly to do with health and safety and welfare standards, such as fire prevention or drainage issues.'

There are permanent sites for gypsies, owned and managed throughout the county by Kent CC. But most gypsies and travellers tend to move around seeking work and do not tend to settle in one place, occasionally taking over local amenity sites. Usually, these sites do not have any facilities for waste disposal and therefore rubbish may be left behind.

'We first have to establish who owns the land, because the land owner has to take the initial action to evict. I liaise with them, the police, and education and welfare officers. We always refer to DTLR guidance in dealing with these problems, but if gypsies or travellers are being evicted from an unauthorised site, the police or bailiffs deal with it.'

He started out in private sector plant hire, and joined Sevenoaks as a dog warden in 1998, then went to college and gained an environmental health qualification and now works within the private sector housing team.

'At the moment we're reviewing all our mobile home site licences with a view to improving conditions for the residents. We've just planned a complete inspection programme.

'You can have problems where site owners and residents don't get on. They think the council can solve everything, but we can only get involved in site licensing and conditions. We like to sort things out informally where possible.'

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