MP urges public to speak out

PUBLISHED: 13:26 11 March 2008 | UPDATED: 15:41 11 May 2010

MP Oliver Heald is urging constituents to voice their opinions on proposals for gypsy and travellers sites. The East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) draft policy on the issue is now out for public consultation. Mr Heald, MP for North East Herts, is

MP Oliver Heald is urging constituents to voice their opinions on proposals for gypsy and travellers' sites.

The East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) draft policy on the issue is now out for public consultation.

Mr Heald, MP for North East Herts, is against the policy, which proposes a levy of 15 pitches for each local authority - include North Herts District Council - regardless of need.

He said: "This consultation is an opportunity for concerned residents to respond to the East of England Regional Assembly, making it clear that they do not support the minimum levy of 15 pitches for each council area.

"I would urge constituents who consider this to be unfair to travellers and North Herts alike, to contact the EERA and make their views known."

It will be up to individual local authorities to decide whether new pitches will be accommodated within existing travellers' sites, or at new sites.

The Scott Wilson report released last year identified potential new travellers sites in North and East Herts, including areas in Barkway, Sandon, and Buntingford.

The EERA said that as a result of consultation it believed that 1,220 additional pitches for travellers have to be provided across the region by 2011.

In addition independent research published by Opinion Research Services concluded that there were not enough legal and permanent sites in the region.

It predicted that 45 new pitches would be needed in Herts over the next five years.

In the past, Mr Heald has said: "I think it's wrong to just put these sites anywhere, ignoring the traditional routes travellers follow.

"This seems like a typically to-down government scheme," he said.

# The consultation document can be viewed on the EERA website, www.eera.gov.uk

# The public consultation will end on May 16.

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