On Monday, January 10, the Community and Resources committee met at the Torridge District Council offices in Bideford. Among the items on the agenda was the Gypsy and Traveller site at Derriton, a proposal that the people of Pyworthy and the surrounding areas had been assured was dead and gone.
Sadly this is not the case and the use of Derriton as a Gypsy and Traveller site is now very much on the cards again albeit in a different form.
I understand that the proposal is to provide four pitches (for occupation by one family group) with the possibility of transient Gypsy and Traveller pitches on the same site.
We have, as a parish council, been led to believe that permanent and transient sites should not be mixed as this can lead to problems in the management of the pitches.
Late in 2010 the community and resources at TDC rejected the proposal for various reasons, yet the same committee have now come up with a new proposal for the site, a proposal that the site does not have planning permission for.
Planning was for seven permanent Gypsy and Traveller pitches. The grant of £842,000 awarded to TDC by the Homes and Communities Agency is still in the bank waiting to be used for Gypsy and Traveller accommodation or be returned to them. I was hopeful for the latter but unfortunately this has not occurred, nor is it likely to. Another proposal at the community and resources meeting was to develop four pitches at Derriton and to have some transient sites in the Bideford area.
As you can imagine that proposal was soon dealt with and rejected. TDC members won’t have a Gypsy and Traveller site in an area where the bulk of its electors reside especially with elections coming up in May this year.
At our council meeting on January 13, Councillor Morrish, leader of TDC, explained to Pyworthy Parish Council exactly what would happen regarding these new proposals in the near future. It would appear that the overview and scrutiny committee will review the proposal and make a decision on its future.
I don’t have an exact time scale for it but it appears that TDC have to commit by the end of March 2011 although an extension by the H&CA to June 2011 is possible but not a certainty.
During our discussions with TDC last year, we struggled to understand how the financial side of a seven-pitch development would stack up. Now it would appear that if a four-pitch site were developed at Derriton with no other accommodation on site, then only half the grant money can be used.
I don’t see how half a job can be done with half the money, unless of course you cut corners. Sheer rock face netting does not come cheap and can’t be compromised upon.
To sum up, I feel that TDC has let the parish of Pyworthy and its residents down by resurrecting this proposal and I can only hope that the grant of £842,000 is returned to the H&CA and this matter will be brought to a speedy end.
I urge the residents of Pyworthy and its surrounding areas to contact their district council and let them know their feelings and opinions on this matter.
Chairman Pyworthy Parish Council.