Accusations of prejudice and neglect of duty have been levelled at the city council after a lengthy search for a potential Travellers’ site in Cambridge failed to find a single plot.
Campaigners questioned how land was being found for thousands of new homes when the hunt for caravan pitches had proved futile. South Cambridgeshire District Council said it would not take any extra plots to make up the shortfall.
Jessica Wheeler, a member of the Traveller Solidarity Network, said: “This is an example of tremendous prejudice because it seems possible to find land for everyone else except Travellers.
“Travellers are treated very punitively when they are forced to stop on unauthorised sites, but what are they supposed to do if councils aren’t allocating land?”
The dispute blew up after dozens of locations around Cambridge were considered, to meet the expected demand over the next two decades for at least one permanent pitch and several temporary plots.
None of the sites passed criteria covering issues such as accessibility to local services and the potential impact on the area.
The city council will keep looking and will consider whether further land should be released from the green belt for pitches, and has even asked residents to put forward suggestions.
South Cambridgeshire expects demand for 85 pitches by 2031.
Cllr Mark Howell, the district council’s cabinet member for housing, said the city council could not shirk its responsibility.
He said: “I think every authority has to find sites for all groups of people and the city shouldn’t be excluded, I think they have to identify an area like everyone else.
“South Cambridgeshire will not take any city sites.”
Cllr Catherine Smart, Cllr Howell’s counterpart at the city council, maintained the best chance of locating a plot in the area lay in collaboration with neighbouring parishes.
She said: “We had a detailed search for land and drew up proper criteria and for one reason or another, usually access, the potential sites were all considered to be unsuitable.
“It’s difficult to know where to go – obviously we’ll carry on searching and we’ll also hope to work with South Cambridgeshire.
“I note my counterpart’s comments that we must do our bit, but that can’t include finding land where there isn’t land that’s suitable.”