Pressure is mounting on Bath and North East Somerset Council to go back to the drawing board over plans to allocate up to seven locations in the area as gypsy and traveller sites.
At a public meeting of the authority’s Liberal Democrat Cabinet this week, Conservative councillors joined with local residents and representatives from Parish Councils in the area to argue that the Council’s current proposals are flawed and should be dropped.
At the meeting, Conservative councillors argued that many of the proposed sites did not accord with criteria set out Government guidelines on the allocation of traveller sites, which state that sites should have good access to local amenities and should not be within Greenbelt.
Despite these arguments, the Liberal Democrat Cabinet voted to proceed with a consultation on the majority of the council’s proposed sites. An eight-week public consultation will now take place from the middle of May.
Conservative Shadow Cabinet Member for Homes and Planning, Cllr Les Kew, said:
“These plans have been rushed out and not thought through. The Council’s proposals do not accord with the Government’s own guidelines on the allocation of traveller sites, which states that they should not be within Greenbelt and should have good access to local amenities. Yet several of the sites are within the Greenbelt and of those that are not, many are in isolated locations. The Council should go back to the drawing board and look again at its proposed sites.”
Cllr Vic Pritchard (Cons, Chew Valley South) spoke against the allocation of land near Stanton Wick, in his neighbouring ward, as a travellers’ site. He said:
“This site does not fit any of the Government’s criteria for a travellers’ site. It is within Greenbelt, is in an isolated location, and the twenty pitches proposed would dominate the nearby village. It is a totally nonsensical location for a traveller site and the local community and Parish Council has done an excellent job of making the case for its removal. It’s just a shame that the Lib Dem Cabinet is not listening.”
Cllr Bryan Organ (Cons, Keynsham East) also raised concerns about the proposed site on the edge of Keynsham. Cllr Organ said:
“The Keynsham site, next to Ellsbridge House, is currently a woodland and wholly unsuitable as a travellers’ site. There are serious highways and access issues to this site and allocating it for traveller pitches would entail destroying the existing woodland. We will be encouraging residents to make their views clear in the Council’s consultation.”