Rural sites would lack 'basic needs'

PUBLISHED: 19:12 14 May 2008 | UPDATED: 15:46 11 May 2010

TRAVELLERS and gypsy sites have to be located where there is a need. So says the crux of a response from Royston Town Council to a consultation document from the East of England Regional Assembly. The response, which was undertaken by Cllr Rod Kennedy, r

TRAVELLERS' and gypsy sites have to be located where there is a need.

So says the crux of a response from Royston Town Council to a consultation document from the East of England Regional Assembly.

The response, which was undertaken by Cllr Rod Kennedy, recognises the need for additional pitches in the region, but it stresses that these should not be in remote rural locations.

It says that such sites would not meet the "basic needs" of the travelling community.

"The view of the travelling community on site location should be taken into account to ensure sites are not located in areas where they will not be used," it says.

Originally, the regional assembly said that just three additional pitches were needed in North Herts, but this was changed to an additional 15 pitches in a later report.

This would mean North Herts providing a total of 21 pitches by 2011.

Cllr Kennedy said: "I think it is pointless to comment on the number of pitches allocated to North Herts as such comments will be ignored."

He said, however, that with travellers' sites already provided in south Cambridgeshire near to Royston that any new pitches should not be provided in the north-east corner of North Herts.

Meanwhile, a report is being drawn up for members of the district council's Cabinet to consider next month on the location of sites.

This could see the removal of rural sites - which include those proposed in Barkway and Sandon - and the need to provide sites nearer to major developments.

A report to Cabinet members said that emerging policies of gypsy and traveller sites location showed "a strong preference" for locating such sites "in areas of major development".

This could mean that a site could be located on the outskirts of Royston.

But the district council has said, too, that there was "no demonstrable need" for more pitches in North Herts other than the "original modest" requirements of between three and 10.

Herts County Council, too, has responded to the consulation exercise.

It says that proposals from the regional assembly would lead to the need of 330 pitches by 2011. This, it said, was "unacceptable".

The response continued: "Whether a genuine case has been made for requiring every local authority to provide a minimum of 15 pitches, it assumes the gypsy and traveller community have a desire to reside in all parts of the region."

It claims that the allocation suggested in additional pitches for Herts was 53 per cent above the assessed need.

The response accuses the regional assembly of overplaying the case of the provision of pitches in every local authority area.

"The gypsy and traveller community actually expressed the view that there should be a site in every local area, not that there should be an additional site in every local authority area.

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