By Matthew Gooding
Thursday, November 15, 2012
A DECISION on whether a council will reopen a controversial gipsy and traveller site has been delayed until the new year.
South Cambridgeshire District Council were due to vote on whether to purchase and reopen the Mettle Hill site, at Kneesworth Road, Meldreth, at their full council meeting on November 22.
The plans have met with widespread public opposition, and as a result the council has decided to postpone the vote until a special meeting on January 10.
As reported in the Crow last week, Meldreth Parish Council also has an option to buy the site, which is currently owned by Cambridgeshire County Council.
Cllr Susan van de Ven, Meldreth’s County Councillor, said: “The parish has a right to buy the land and this will give them more time to decide whether to make a bid.
“This a complicated matter and there is a process to be gone through, so it wasn’t really fair to expect them to do that in 10 days.”
The plans for Mettle Hill were approved by the district council’s cabinet last week, at a meeting which saw hundreds of visitors flood the council chamber to register their strong feelings on the matter.
Despite this new delay, Cllr van de Ven said she expected many residents to remain “sceptical” about the council’s intentions.
“Unfortunately the district council has devastated public trust with their actions,” she said. “People are extremely sceptical about their intentions.”
Cllr Tony Orgee, chairman of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “The intention to purchase the site has raised a significant volume of questions and concerns from local residents and it is only right we give more time to consider all the views before any decisions are made by councillors.
“All items relating to this decision have been removed from the agenda for the full council meeting on November 22 and the separate meeting focusing solely on this matter will give the proper time needed to consider all the points.”
Cllr Mark Howell, the council’s cabinet member for housing, added: “Plans for any new development frequently cause local concern, and as we have had so many people getting in touch with the council about this proposal I fully support the chairman’s decision to give extra time so we can consider all the points of view before any decision is made.
“We have a legal obligation to look for new pitches to provide sufficient accommodation for growing traveller families currently living in the district, but we have already made it clear we want to work with the local community to deliver a site that is well managed and of the highest quality.”
A petition against the plans for Mettle Hill has now been signed by about 2,800 people. Anyone wishing to sign it should visit www.mettlehill.com.
The district council is also requesting that residents email them with their views via email@example.com.