Gypsy sites set to quadruple

SITES for gypsy and traveller families to live on in Weston and North Somerset are set to more than quadruple in number.

SITES for gypsy and traveller families to live on in Weston and North Somerset are set to more than quadruple in number.

Nearly 50 permanent pitches should be created in Weston and North Somerset by 2011 according to a massive study into where the nomadic groups could live.

The construction of new sites is hoped to spell an end to traveller groups setting up on privately owned or council land in the area and causing controversy and arguments with the people living near them.

The South West Regional Assembly launched a huge investigation into the issue and decided with North Somerset Council that an extra 45 residential and 17 'transit' pitches should be made available.


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There are just eight council-run pitches currently available for traveller groups, five of those in Weston. There are also privately-run sites, notably in Congresbury, but the assembly does not take these into account.

The council has since carried out its own study with other local authorities and believes it needs 36 permanent pitches and 10 'transit' ones.

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North Somerset has sent those figures to the regional assembly, which has started a 12-week consultation exercise to help it come to final decision.

Travellers are regular visitors to the Weston area, frequently appearing on the edges of the town, often using car parks or patches of roadside grass as temporary homes.

Although many visits pass without note, residents regularly complain about antisocial behaviour, litter and noise. The regional assembly hopes these problems will be stamped out if councils provide more pitches for travellers.

The assembly's planning group chairman Mike Bawden said: "We know 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.

"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."

For more details visit the website www.southwest-ra.gov.uk

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