Gypsy site plan 'Unfair' says Uttlesford councillor

PUBLISHED: 09:02 25 June 2009 | UPDATED: 21:48 31 May 2010

A PLAN which could force Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to make room for an extra 10 gypsy sites has been met with strong objections from councillors. Currently the district has 37 sites designated for travellers and gypsies and, following a review b

A PLAN which could force Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to make room for an extra 10 gypsy sites has been met with "strong" objections from councillors.

Currently the district has 37 sites designated for travellers and gypsies and, following a review by the East of England Regional Assembly, UDC's environment committee agreed to an additional 15 sites over the next few years.

However, a Government decision has now upped that amount to 25, a number that none of the councillors are happy with.

Cllr Jackie Cheetham said: "The vast majority of districts in the county accepted the 15 site agreement - to increase that does seem very unfair. We have been making very good provision in this district for a long time.

"It seems as though Uttlesford is now being asked to accommodate them from elsewhere, from districts such as south Cambridgeshire that have refused to have as many sites as us."

The council has written back to the secretary of state for communities and local government with their objections and will be seeking to have the total reduced back to the 15 sites that were formally agreed in March 2008.

Environment committee chairman, Cllr Susan Barker, summed up the views of the committee who voted against the increase. She said: "Councils like Southend just say no and that they are not having any. We do not want to do that. But we do not want an increase either. Also, there is a real lack of funding available and there is no way we could deliver 10 extra sites on time."

At meeting of the environment committee last week, members agreed to "strongly" object to the proposal. Their response states: "The council has made provision for 37 pitches in the past and feels that an additional 15 pitches meets the housing needs of gypsy and travellers already resident in the district."

DO you think UDC should find room for more gypsy and traveller sites? Let us know by emailing editor@saffronwalden-reporter.co.uk

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