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Councils in Dorset are considering options for resolving problems with illegal Gypsy and Traveller camps, ahead of a planned public consultation later this autumn.
All Dorset planning authorities are working together with the county council to produce a Development Plan Document (DPD) that will allocate permanent and transit sites to meet the county's needs for the next 15 years.
And each of Dorset's six borough and district councils, plus the two unitary authorities of Bournemouth and Poole, will be meeting over the next month to endorse the planned public consultation process later this year - when local people will have the chance to give their views on suggested sites.
Over the last year, consultants Baker Associates have been working to identify and assess potentially suitable locations against strict criteria, before drawing up a shortlist of options for each council. These options have not been endorsed by any of the partner authorities.
The suggested sites will be published with the reports for each council's relevant committee, starting with West Dorset District Council's Policy Scrutiny Committee on 27 September.
If members approve the consultation, local residents, businesses, interest groups and travelling communities will be invited to find out more and have their say on the potential site options for each area. A series of public exhibitions is planned, supported by an online questionnaire and comments form.
Having enough permanent and transit sites helps the police use special powers to move Travellers who camp illegally on private or public land. It can reduce problems with associated anti-social behaviour by having properly managed sites and limits the detrimental effects on travelling communities' health, education and well-being.
While the Government has removed the targets that were part of Regional Spatial Strategies, local authorities still have a responsibility to identify enough Traveller sites to meet the local need. In 2007, the Dorset Traveller Needs Assessment identified the need for additional Traveller pitches across Dorset for the years 2011-26.
Robert Gould, Dorset County Council's Cabinet member for environment, said:
"This issue presents challenges for us all but we cannot solve the ongoing problem of unauthorised camping and development unless we have a planning policy that gives greater certainty for both settled and travelling communities.
"By working in partnership with all Dorset councils I hope we will be better placed to identify the best possible locations for sites that will help to meet the needs of Gypsies and Travellers who move across local council boundaries."
For more information, go to www.dorsetforyou.com/travellerpitches