A COUNCILLOR has urged officers in Bradford to "take a long hard look" at their approach to the Traveller community - after figures revealed Gypsy and Irish Travellers in the district were more likely to report having bad or very bad health.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show 846 people in Bradford said they were Gypsy or Irish Traveller in the latest census.

Of them, 72 said they had bad or very bad health – nine per cent of the cohort.

Meanwhile, six per cent of the total population in the area reported poor health.

Tong ward Councillor Matt Edwards, leader of the Green Party on Bradford Council, reacted to the figures.

He told the Telegraph & Argus: "This data does not surprise me at all and I hope that council officers here in Bradford take a long hard look at this and decide if their approach to the Traveller community is fit for purpose.

"As a councillor I have been contacted multiple times by residents of Mary Street Traveller site trying to raise issues like getting basic but serious repairs done, getting copies of their tenancy agreements and having the right number of bins.

"Up until very recently, the residents at Mary Street didn't even have post boxes and I have heard appalling stories of residents missing hospital appointments which have meant health conditions have gotten worse.

"The very fact the largest Traveller site in Bradford is next to a household waste centre is shameful.

"There are no residential amenities in that area so this community is completely isolated from social and health care services."

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: There are concerns for the health of Gypsy and Irish TravellersThere are concerns for the health of Gypsy and Irish Travellers (Image: Radar)

A spokesperson for Bradford Council said: "The evidence is clear that high levels of deprivation impact on the health and well-being of communities, including Gypsy and Irish Traveller communities.

"In Bradford, we're committed to working with our health partners across the district to tackle the health inequalities that our residents face through focused initiatives.

"Building on the Gypsy and Traveller Needs Assessment undertaken in 2022, public health has recently invested funding to support closer working relationships with representatives of Mary Street and Esholt Traveller sites through Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange.

"This includes working with communities on addressing their well-being priorities so we can help them get the services and support they need.

"We offer a range of healthy activities that communities have chosen which take place in local buildings.

"We also offer outreach services for communities such as the recent mobile flu and Covid vaccination visits that were made to both Traveller sites this week.

"We do, however, also need to see greater Government investment so that we can improve the life chances and the health outcomes for all our residents."

Across England and Wales, 12.5 per cent of those who identified as Gypsy or Irish Travellers reported having bad or very bad health - compared to 5.2 per cent of the overall population.

A spokesperson for the Friends, Families and Travellers national charity said: "Behind the numbers, there are generations of Gypsy and Traveller families grappling with a significantly reduced quality of life as poor health has a knock-on effect on education, employment and social opportunities.

"Health and social care providers must do more to ensure services are inclusive and able to support the needs of Gypsy and Traveller families."

Most people who identified as Gypsy or Irish Travellers reported being in good or very good health (72.3 per cent).

However, this percentage was lower than for the England and Wales population (82 per cent).

The ONS said that while health is related to age – with younger people more likely to report better health – those who identified as Gypsy or Irish Traveller had a younger age profile than the general population.

Therefore, poorer health of this group cannot be explained by age.

In Bradford, 692 Gypsy or Irish Travellers said they were in good or very good health (82 per cent) while 82 were in fair health (10 per cent).

A Government spokesperson said: "We are committed to levelling up the health of the nation so everyone can live longer, healthier lives, regardless of their location or background, and we have always prioritised the NHS by backing it with the funding it needs."