Conservative councillors have called for a Special Council Meeting to be convened to debate plans by Bath and North East Somerset Council to allocate up to six locations in the area as gypsy and traveller sites.
Conservatives have submitted the request for a Special Meeting of the Council after the authority’s Liberal Democrat Cabinet chose to ignore a request from a Council scrutiny panel for its plans to be put on hold whilst a new needs assessment is carried out.
The Council has come under fire from residents in Keynsham, Radstock and the village of Stanton Wick, who have organised a campaign to put a stop to the plans. Conservatives councillors have backed their concerns have called on the authority to go back to the drawing board on its list of sites.
Cllr Francine Haeberling, Leader of B&NES Conservative Group, said:
“This decision should not just be taken by the closed inner-circle of the Lib Dem Cabinet, who have shown a flagrant disregard for the genuine concerns of local residents and completely ignored the wishes of the Council’s own scrutiny panel.
“Because of this we have called for a Special Council Meeting to take place, so that all the issues with the proposed sites to be properly debated.”
Conservative have raised concerns that the sites proposed by the Council do not accord with recently published Government guidelines, which state that traveller sites should not be within Greenbelt, should have access to local services and should not dominate nearby communities.
Councillor Haeberling added:
“We support the need to find appropriate locations for traveller sites, but the Liberal Democrats have completely bungled the whole process, proposing sites which are wholly inappropriate and fail to meet Government criteria.
“The site at Stanton Wick is within Greenbelt with no access to any necessary amenities, while the Keynsham site is currently established woodland on the busy A4 with serious highway access issues. In addition, the Radstock site has also been proposed as a site for new affordable housing, which many people in the area deem a more effective use of the site.
“The Cabinet should be listening to these concerns and halt the consultation whilst it reviews its whole site selection process.”
To call a Special Council Meeting, five councillors need to send a request to the Chair of Council setting out their reasons for calling the meeting. The five councillors who have signed the request are Francine Haeberling (Saltford), Vic Pritchard (Chew Valley South), Malcolm Hanney (Chew Valley North), Marie Longstaff (Keynsham East) and Peter Edwards (Publow&Whitchurch).