Council reveals its ‘long list’ for new gipsy sites
A councillor says no decision has been made on where new gipsy and traveller sites will go, after a ‘long list’ of sites was published.
Central Bedfordshire Council says it needs to find an extra 130 pitches to provide for gipsy and traveller families up to 2031.
The long list includes a site south of Dunstable, to the east of the A5, and one in Bidwell.
A shortlist will be compiled at the council’s overview and scrutiny meeting on February 28.
Central Beds compiled the long list after a call for people to suggest sites last year failed to produce adequate numbers.
Councillor Nigel Young, in charge of sustainable communities, said: “No sites, no pitches – nothing – has been decided yet.
“We’re at the very beginning of a very considered process and these site suggestions are simply a list of areas that could be suitable for gipsy and traveller pitches.
“We’ll be looking at them and continuing to use the agreed assessment criteria to determine which sites are most suitable across the whole of the area.
The size of the suggested sites is in no way a depiction of how many pitches could be located there. Pitch numbers will be assessed later, but we’ll be adopting an approach based on small family units.
“What is absolutely vital to remember is that we have a statutory duty to provide appropriate accommodation to this community, just as we do for other communities.
“We work hard to meet the needs of both the gipsy and traveller and the settled communities and we must be equal in addressing need.
“We consulted the public at the end of last year, including the gipsy and traveller community, about what should be in the Local Plan.
“There will be the chance for people to have their say again further down the line, but for now rest assured that the council’s staff are working hard to assess the suitability of proposed sites, as are the community’s elected members.”
A report going before the council’s sustainability overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday says approval of the gipsy and traveller local plan “could help to close achievement and health inequalities, reduce racial tensions associated with unauthorised sites, increase the participation of gipsy and traveller communities in decision making and service delivery processes and increase a sense of belonging.”
It would also help reduce the financial burden of unauthorised encampments on the authority, it says. Find out more about the sites at www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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