Do we need more traveller sites?

TRAVELLERS could soon be setting up home more regularly in North Somerset - after planning chiefs recommended creating nearly 50 new

TRAVELLERS could soon be setting up home more regularly in North Somerset - after planning chiefs recommended creating nearly 50 new pitches for them across the district.The South West Regional Assembly launched an investigation to assess the number of pitches needed to accommodate the many travellers who visit the district each year, often setting up illegal camps on privately and council owned land.Each local authority has been consulted on the number of new pitches needed for the travelling community and an extra 36 permanent pitches and 10 transit pitches is being recommended for North Somerset.The number of transit pitches is likely to be split into two, with one camp in the Weston-super-Mare area and the other in the north of the district and have to be in place by 2011.A 12-week period of consultation on the plans has been launched with the responses being collected by an independent panel. Regional assembly member and chair of the assembly's planning group Cllr Mike Bawden, said: "All councils have to consider the needs of gypsy and traveller communities in their local planning frameworks and housing strategies. Councils have already undertaken Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessments (GTAAs) and have now advised the regional assembly on what they think the numbers should be in their areas."This consultation is the opportunity for people in the region to get involved and comment on both the policy and the pitch requirements for gypsies and travellers in each local authority area."We know that providing the right number of pitches is not only vital in promoting better relations between the settled and the travelling community, but it also makes good financial sense for councils."North Somerset Council already currently provides eight sites for travellers visiting the district and there is a privately run camp near Congresbury.Travellers have already caused chaos in Clevedon this year, setting up camp at Marshall's Field for two weeks and leaving a £2,500 clean up bill behind them.They also camped on land off Hawthorn Way in Nailsea, keeping neighbours awake until the early hours with generators running and dogs barking. Consultation documents are available from council offices and main libraries, and by calling the assembly on 01823 270101, visiting the website: www.southwest-ra.gov.uk, or by post from South West Regional Assembly, Dennett House, 11 Middle Street, Taunton, Somerset, TA1 1SH. Large print and audio versions of the consultation document are available from the Independent Panel on 0117 372 8424.* What do you think? Should more official pitches be provided for travellers or do you think they will set up camp regardless of whether there are specific facilities or not? Should the cost of these camps fall at the feet of local taxpayers or should those using them be made to pay? Write to us with your views at North Somerset Times, 32 Waterloo Street, Weston-super-Mare, BS23 1LW or email us at nstimes@archant.co.uk


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