From the Bath Chronicle
Plots of land at Twerton and Newbridge have been identified as possible Travellers sites for Bath.
Council chiefs have pinpointed seven possible locations for authorised sites for Gypsies and Travellers amid concern that the area has none at the moment.
The past decade has seen around 20 unauthorised encampments, which have angered neighbours and left the council taxpayer with a clearing-up bill.
A meeting on May 9 will discuss a draft consultation programme looking at the seven sites, not all of which would be finally chosen.
The sites are:
• land near Twerton Woods at Lower Bristol Road, where 15 transit places could be established;
• the Daglands open space at Camerton, which could accommodate nine permanent pitches;
• land near Ellsbridge House at Keynsham (six permanent)
• old colliery buildings at Stanton Wick (15 permanent and five transit)
• the former Radstock Infant School canteen (two permanent);
• land at Woollard Lane, Whitchurch (two permanent);
• Station Road, Newbridge (one travelling showmen’s yard).
The council says that setting up formal pitches will strengthen its hand when it comes to dealing with illegal occupations and mean that users have to pay council tax.
It points out that it is the only authority in the west of England without official pitches and that once Bristol City Council established proper pitches, its annual enforcement costs plummeted from £200,000 to £5,000.
In all, it reckons it needs 22 permanent pitches, 20 transit pitches and one yard for fair operators - known as travelling Showmen.
A spokesman said: “These sites have the potential to deliver significantly higher numbers of pitches above the level of need. This allows the opportunity for open debate about where local people think are the most suitable locations. No final decisions on which locations will be used have been taken.”
Vice-chair of the council’s housing and major projects panel Councillor Steve Hedges (Lib Dem, Odd Down) said: “I am pleased that the council is at last tackling this issue. This is the right thing to do. It will help us tackle the problems caused by illegal pitches and it will mean that the council is addressing the needs of some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. Gypsies and Travellers are frequently victims of racism and discrimination and are often unable to access services such as schools for their children and health care.”
After the council cabinet discuss the locations on May 9, there will be an eight-week consultation period, and the final list drawn up after a further meeting in December.
Further information can be found at www.bathnes.gov.uk/planningfortravellers.