Hertfordshire set to see more travellers pitches
PUBLISHED: 11:32 28 January 2008 | UPDATED: 21:45 26 October 2009
PLANS to see more travellers pitches set up in Hertfordshire by 2011 are now one step closer. The East of England Regional Assembly agreed to 176 pitches - more than originally discussed in two previous options - on Friday. It follows a public meeting on
PLANS to see more travellers pitches set up in Hertfordshire by 2011 are now one step closer.
The East of England Regional Assembly agreed to 176 pitches - more than originally discussed in two previous options - on Friday.
It follows a public meeting on the one site earmarked by an independent report for Welwyn Hatfield - Bulls Lane south in Bell Bar.
It now only needs central government approval to get the go-ahead.
The original two options to cater for the estimated 1,220 needed across the region were either 115 more pitches for Herts, distributed according to current need, or 173, to spread them more evenly.
This new option will see Hertsmere with 18 more pitches - one more than before - and Welwyn Hatfield with the same 17.
Speaking after the assembly's meeting, chairman John Reynolds said: "Throughout the East of England we need more legal places for gypsies and travellers to live.
"With every local authority providing additional accommodation, it will help solve the problem of unauthorised encampments and improve quality of life for travellers."
A full 12-week public consultation will begin in late February and a Government decision is expected in 2009.
Grant Shapps, Welwyn Hatfield MP and an organiser of the public meeting, said: "We held it because of the great deal of concern among residents and it was packed.
"From a political point of view, it is currently a legal responsibility for local authorities to house travellers' pitches, but I don't think it should be."
He added: "This is one thing I am going to look to see changed in parliament."
He also said he thought there were too many pitches than needed in the plans and Bulls Lane was very far from suitable.
Also at the meeting was Stephen Boulton, borough councillor for Brookmans Park and Little Heath, who stressed the Bulls Lane site was not a "done deal".
Nevertheless, communities group the North Mymms Green Belt Society has vowed to fight against the plans, including setting up a petition.