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1 March 2013, 11:20
Nearly 200 members of the public turned up to a meeting where Central Bedfordshire councillors shortlisted 32 sites being considered as settlements for gypsies and travellers.
The meeting went on for nearly 7 hours on Thursday 28th February.
There were 34 public speakers repressing places like- Barton, Maulden, Stotfold, Potton, Arlesey and Flitton
They highlighted reasons against having sites in their towns- reasons included:
- The impact on nature
- Shortage of school places
- Safety of travellers walking to and from the site due to no pavements
- Safety of accessing the site with the entrance/ exit being on a high speed road
- Visual impact
- Impact on local economy if businesses leave the area as a result of a gypsy/ traveller site
Nigel Young is Central Bedfordshire Council's executive member for strategic planning, he told Heart the government require them to provide a certain amount of land for the gypsy and traveller community and they have to plan for this up until 2031.
It was decided that by that time Central Bedfordshire Council would need to have 157 permanent pitches and 22 available for travelling Show People
These figures will be reviewed every five years.
At the end of the meeting the chairman recommended a shortlist of seven sites.
These were in: Stotfold, Barton, Caddington, Potton, Biggleswade, Tingrith and Pulloxhill
The next step is this recommendation goes to the executive committee in March, if the executive agrees this could then go to full council in April.
After this is a public consultation where representations from the public can be made to the Secretary of State.
Then the Secretary of State appoints an inspector
The public can then make representations to the Inspector before the final decision is made.
Cllr Nigel Young claims the earliest that any of the proposed sites could have gypsies or travellers living on them is the middle of 2014.