Two Weeks to Go To Find Out Which Gypsy and Traveller Sites Are Recommended

Travellers came onto Tithe Farm Recreation Ground in June 2012 after damaging a chain and lock and incurring the Houghton Regis Town Council in fees for bailiffs. Photos: © A D Winter 2012

Readers may have heard that ONE site close to Houghton Regis, in Bidwell, is being considered by Central Bedfordshire Council for a Gypsy and Traveller site. The location is some private land offered to the Council for that purpose.

The Council, by law, has to have a certain number of pitches available for travellers. Without specifying where these are the Council could find itself in a difficult place should illegal encampments be made. Until permanent sites are available encroachments, like the one on Tithe Farm Recreation Ground last year, will continue to happen.

The councillors on the Overview and Scrutiny Committee have been visiting some 35 sites across the Central Bedfordshire area to examine their individual suitability. They have had to remain fairly impartial to public comment during this time, but on 28th February they will be reporting back and revealing their findings. It is thought that only half of the sites may actually be required. They will recommend to the Executive Committee which sites are best able to provide sufficient pitches to meet the requirement up until 2031.

Residents can send representations to be considered at this meeting by emailing or before 25th February 2013.

The  Executive Committee will consider the recommendations of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and in turn make their recommendations to Full Council in April.  Once the Council has made a firm proposal, there will be a 6 week formal consultation period.  That is the time to give views on the whole 20 year plans. Only once all of those views have been considered, will the Council send its finalised list and all of the consultation results to the Secretary of State for an independent public examination and hearings. Anyone who has made a representation in the full consultation could be invited by the Inspector holding the public examination to speak at the hearings.

If you would like to read more about the process and the legal requirements please read this document ... hrnd