From This Is South Wales
HUNDREDS of residents have turned out to protest against a site for Travellers being created in Penderry ward.
People living near Milford Way say they want facilities for children and the local community built on the site, rather than using it to create a home for travellers.
t is one of five sites across the city being considered by Swansea Council, along with two in Heol y Mynydd in Gorseinon, the former greyhound stadium in Fforestfach, and land at the eastern gateway to Swansea Vale in Llansamlet.
The number of people turning out, which was more than 200, illustrated the strength of feeling of residents, said organisers, who already have more than 1,000 names on a petition against the site being used for travellers.
A spokesman for the Penderry Ward Residents Committee said: “We appreciate a suitable site is needed for the Traveller families, but we strongly believe this site is unsuitable for this purpose, due to its location within the residential areas.
“We understand Travellers have their own culture, and the Penderry community is concerned that cultural clashes may arise due to the site being located in the heart of diverse housing types.
“Penderry ward, like many others around Swansea, has its fair share of problems.
“What the community desperately needs on this site is something that will help to regenerate the area, something that can offer a social uplift and employment, possibly a community centre project that would greatly benefit and give something back to the community.
“The site could also be developed for much needed affordable housing, and being a brown field site, government grants would be available for this purpose, making this a financially viable option”
Under the Housing Act 2004 all local authorities in Wales have to assess the accommodation needs of Travellers.
Swansea Council carried out an assessment in 2008 which highlighted insufficient provision for Travellers in the Swansea area.
The Welsh Government produced its own Travellers’ action plan in September last year.
The report states: “As elected leaders, councillors have a role in educating the settled population about the genuine accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers.
“The Welsh Local Government Association is ideally placed to help councillors undertake this role by providing training to elected members on Gypsy and Traveller issues.”
The demonstration in Penderry ward follows similar turnouts at Parc Melin Mynach and Heol y Myndd, staged shortly after it was announced those sites were on the shortlist of those being considered. Among those at the latest demonstration was newly- elected Penderry councillor Terry Hennegan.
He said: “This is the wrong site. There has been no consultation with past or present councillors, or with local people.
“I am not concerned about Travellers themselves, and I am not against them — I never have been.
“But this is the wrong site. It is a brown field site, and there is money available to develop brown field sites.
“There is a big shortage of affordable housing, which is what is needed.
“Amenities could be put here because that is what is need, a play area or a family centre.
“But I think any potential developers would think twice if it was an established Traveller site.”
Among those turning up were resident Sheila Brough.
She said: “A few years ago we were sent a letter asking us what we would like to see on this site, but nothing ever came of it.
“People want houses, or a park, or facilities for children, they don’t want a Travellers site.”
Resident Stephen Bolam said: “Why is this place being considered when there are other places more suitable?
“The former dog racing track would be more suitable. And why aren’t sites being considered in Mumbles or in Gower?”
Resident Karen Sayce said: “This is a lovely place to live, but I would be concerned about safety of homes and children”.
Another resident, who declined to be named, added: “Travellers live a different lifestyle completely, and I respect that, it is up to them.
“But this community lives a different lifestyle to them.”