A large number of Wyre Forest Residents have contacted me recently about the Wyre Forest District Council's Consultation on Potential Sites for Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople.
All those who have been in touch are displeased, to put it lightly, with the consultation and the number of sites proposed. I would like to stress that this consultation has not been established as a directive from the Government. The decision was a local one and therefore out of my control. I have written to the District Council asking why they have established the consultation but am yet to receive a reply. In the meantime I would like to set out my views here.
I strongly believe in the importance of providing accommodation for all types of residents in the district, be it homes for families, single occupancy residents, retirement homes and, of course, homes for travelling communities.
I also realise that a key reason for providing more pitches is to avoid long and tedious legal battles over unauthorised Gypsy encampments. An example of this is the 10 year battle over Dale Farm in Essex and, more locally, in Churchill.
However, I am completely sympathetic with those communities who feel they are being dumped on by the council. Not only am I questioning the number of sites that are being sought, I am also very concerned that the Baker Associate report commissioned by the council may be wrong. The little evidence that has been presented to me suggests that this was not undertaken with as much care as I would expect, given that it cost £17,500.
I am also deeply concerned that the analysis being used to establish how many sites we need in Wyre Forest are being based on the now discredited Regional Spatial Strategy. This document was prepared by the previous government and has since been thrown out by the current government.
I urge all those who have strong feelings regarding this issue contribute to the consultation. I will be doing so in due course. I will also submitting all the correspondence I receive into the consultation. I will not be including people's names and addresses when I do so and please contact me if you have already contacted me and no not want your points submitted.
Please click here for the consultation.
Please click here for a link to more information on the Localism Bill and the provision of Gypsy sites.
Please click here for my October 2011 newsletter for more detailed information on each individual site under consultation.
Please click here for the second edition of this newsletter, published at the end of October 2011.
Please click here for the for Wyre Forest DC public meetings times