People join forces to fight travellers' site plans (Gazette 15/1/09)

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People join forces to fight travellers' site plans (Gazette 15/1/09)

Post  Flowergirl on Sun Feb 01, 2009 1:56 pm

PEOPLE in Westerleigh have joined forces to fight plans which they say would "swamp" the village with travellers’ sites.

Much of the community was left outraged at South Gloucestershire Council’s proposals to expand existing encampments and create one new gypsy site at five locations surrounding the village.

Chairman of Westerleigh Residents’ Association, Eve Carey, said the "saturation" was unfair.

She told the Gazette: "Westerleigh is only a small community of about 320 houses and we feel we are being swamped.

"For such a small community to take those amounts of pitches is unfair. I think it is about time they were evenly distributed around South Gloucestershire."

The residents’ association has held a public meeting and delivered leaflets to every household in the village and to homes in the Bisley, Chedworth and Rodford Way estates.

Campaigners are desperate to raise awareness of the plans and believe many residents do not know they could soon be living close to five travellers’ sites.

Mrs Carey added: "There is a lot of resistance to the volume of traveller and gypsy sites we can accommodate and five more is too many."

The council launched a public consultation on gypsy and travellers’ sites in November last year after a Government directive insisted South Gloucestershire accommodate 53 permanent and 25 transit pitches for travelling families.

The authority is considering expanding sites at Henfield Paddock, between Westerleigh and Coalpit Heath, Bridge View and Elm Farm in Westerleigh, Hill View in Nibley and building a new travellers' site at Kendall Close on Westerleigh Business Park, as well as utilising 12 other sites across the region.

A spokesman said: "The Government has issued a direction to the council to urgently allocate sites for gypsies and travellers in the district.

“The consultation on where possible sites might be allocated has been running since the start of November to give people an opportunity to comment on the proposals.

“The consultation has been widely advertised, with information available on the council’s website, at all One Stop Shops, in libraries, leisure centres and GP and health clinics, and there have been adverts and articles in the local media.

“If for any reason people are not able to give their views on the proposals by the time the consultation ends on January 29, then the council will still take into account responses received shortly after this date.”

Yate Town Council is against the proposal but Dodington Parish Council has not raised an objection.

Cllr Mandy Sainsbury, who lives in Blaisdon, said: "Unfortunately there is a lot of prejudice around travellers’ sites and people tend to judge these things by personal experience.

"I think there is good and bad in all but if people knew just how many existing travellers’ sites there are they would be quite staggered."

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