Lib-Dems playing politics' over travellers' site report

PUBLISHED: 16:55 15 November 2007 | UPDATED: 15:19 12 May 2010

THE leader of the Liberal Democrats on North Herts District Council has been accused of playing politics with people s emotions . The comment came after Cllr Steve Jarvis issued a press statement this week in which he claimed the district council would

THE leader of the Liberal Democrats on North Herts District Council has been accused of "playing politics with people's emotions".

The comment came after Cllr Steve Jarvis issued a press statement this week in which he claimed the district council would "rubber stamp" suggestions in a consultants report on gypsy and travellers' sites.

Cllr Jarvis said: "The consultant's report identifies far more sites than will ever be required, including some that people have demonstrated are clearly unsuitable.

"Now we are told the council will just go along with everything that the consultants suggest," he said.

The Scott Wilson report - a document commissioned by Herts County Council and other local authorities including North Herts and East Herts - identified 21 potential "areas for search in the county".

These included sites in Hinxworth Road South, Ashwell; London Road, Barkway; north of Payne End, Sandon; land south of Notley Green, Sandon and The Joint North, Reed.

Cllr Jarvis continued: "It is apparently up to local people to argue against the sites in the public consultation.

"People will wonder what is the point of councillors who just rubber-stamp what consultants tell them."

But the Liberal Democrat statement has been criticised as "displaying wilful ignorance" of the district council's position.

Cllr Richard Thake, the portfolio holder for planning on the district council, said: "Failure to give proper consideration to all potential sites will render the process invalid and result in a Government imposition of an eventual solution."

He said the district council had to play by the consultation rules.

Cllr Thake said he could assume that although none of the sites were "likely to be acceptable", the council was still required to carry out a legal process at "great public express".

He believed that "none of the current crop of sites" has district council support.

But he stressed: "It is my opinion that it is better than an even bet that nothing is likely to be sited on the areas currently identified."

He said that Cllr Jarvis should "be ashamed of himself" and "playing politics with people's emotions is despicable".

The sites identified in the Scott Wilson report will be included in the district council's Land Allocation Development Plan document which will part of a public consultation exercise in January.

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