Residents have spoken of a ‘growing sense of frustration’ at the lack of provision for Gypsy and Traveller sites.
More than 70 people attended a meeting last Saturday chaired by MP for North East Bedfordshire Alistair Burt including members of 26 local rural parish councils and a number of borough councillors.
While the recent U-turn on Meadow Lane is welcomed with the assurances by the Mayor that it will be considered for planning on March 26, concern is that this may not succeed and that the borough council should also be progressing alternative sites now.
And the North Bedfordshire Residents Associaiton says it’s launching a ‘vigorous campaign’ to ensure that its voice is heard.
Aspokesman for the group said:“There is a growing sense of frustration amongst the community of North Bedfordshire at the lack of adequate provision for Gypsy and Traveller sites in the Borough, resulting in an increased number of illegal encampments and temporary permissions being given for unsuitable sites.
“We welcome the progress that is being made on the Meadow Lane site; however we are very concerned that the Borough's identification of alternative sites is progressing too slowly."
MP Alistair Burt said he’d be meeting Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles MP to raise points from the meeting. He added:“I was very pleased to take part in today's meeting. North Bedfordshire seems to have highlighted the very reasons for the need to re-balance the law, with a number of inappropriate sites and retrospective planning applications which are of little use to travellers or residents alike. The uncertainty in the area has taken a real toll, as many made clear.
“I fully support north Bedfordshire councillor's efforts to urge Bedford Borough Council to find alternative and better new sites, currently heavily over-represented in the rural Bedford area.”
A follow up meeting will be held by the parish councils, resident associations and Mr Burt in a few weeks time to discuss progress on the issues raised.