Tents, vans, sheds, or similar structures used for human habitation, which are in such a state as to be a nuisance or injurious to health, or which are overcrowded so as to be injurious to the health of the inmates, are now considered to be nuisances, if within the Metropolis, under the Nuisances Removal Acts. This alteration in the law was made by the Housing of the “Working Classes Act, which was passed in August, 1885. Under section 9, subsection 3, the Sanitary authority or the Sanitary Committee can authorise one of its officers to demand admission to these places between sis in the morning and nine at night, and any person obstructing him is liable to a penalty of forty shillings. He is entitled to demand admission whenever he has reasonable ground for supposing that there is a contravention of the provisions of the Act in any of these structures, or as regards cleanliness, overcrowding, &c., or that there is in any of these vans, tents, &c., any person suffering from a dangerous infectious disorder. If the occupier of any van, &c., should neglect to comply with notices served on him to abate the nuisances, he can be summoned for neglect in the same manner as any one else who neglects or refuses to comply with an ordinary notice under the Nuisances Removal or Sanitary Acts. The Act does not apply to the state of the ground or to noises arising out of the manner in which the business of the owners of the vans, &c., is carried on, and therefore will not assist in preventing annoyances arising therefrom.
The Board have again had under consideration the subject of the desirability of bye-laws being made for the control or suppression of street cries or noises in the Metropolis. The Board in April, 1894, suggested to the London County Council that they should make bye-laws relative to (a) obstruction of thoroughfares by offering goods for sale ; (b) annoyance by shooting galleries, swing boats, &c.; (c) occupation of land by squatters, gipsies, &c., and the Council have now asked for the opinion of the Board with regard to bye-laws being made as to (1) street noises; (2) shooting galleries, roundabouts, &c.; (3) lights to vehicles; (4) keeping noisy animals. The Board approved of such bye-laws being made and they suggested that the operations of the bye-laws should extend to itinerant musicians, and that those persons should not be allowed to carry on their vocation in the streets after 10 p.m. The Council were also informed that the Board were still of opinion that the matters mentioned in their letter of April, 1894, should be dealt with by bye-laws. A Bill on the subject has been introduced into Parliament and the Board have presented a petition in its favour.
On the 25th August one of the Sanitary Inspectors reported that a band of Hungarian gypsies had encamped on land in Garratt Lane, and on inspecting the premises he found that there were about 120 men, women and children occupying 17 tents which had been erected on the land.
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The Sanitary Inspector visited the premises three or four times a week, and I personally inspected the premises on six different occasions, as several complaints had been received from the occupiers of the houses adjoining. The complaints made were mainly of the noise produced by hammering, the work carried on by these gypsies being the repairing of copper utensils. Eventually, after a considerable amount of difficulty, the tribe were persuaded to leave, and the premises were vacated on the 23rd December.
At irregular intervals throughout the year inspections were made of the vans occupied as dwellings; there have also been special visits made as the result of complaints received from time to time respecting the vans in certain yards. There are in all 37 vans on 12 separate premises, the most in one yard being seven. The internal measurements of all these vans have been taken for the purpose of calculating their cubic capacity. With one or two exceptions these dwellings have been found clean and well-kept, and the provisions of bye-laws relating to Tents, Vans and Sheds complied with. In the few instances mentioned, a verbal warning was sufficient to obtain compliance. The complaints received referred principally to noise, or were the outcome of a sentimental objection to plots of land adjoining the dwelling-houses of the complainants being so used, but not with respect to any breach of the byelaws. The occupiers of the vans appear to be a very healthy set of people, only one case of infectious disease (Scarlet Fever) having occurred amongst them during the whole of the year.