Thumbs-up for plans to provide more traveller sites in county
PUBLISHED: 13:29 29 January 2008 | UPDATED: 21:44 26 October 2009
PLANS to see more travellers pitches set up in Hertfordshire by 2011 is a 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 about the
PLANS to see more travellers pitches set up in Hertfordshire by 2011 is a 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 about the one site earmarked by an independent report for Welwyn Hatfield - Bulls Lane South in Bell Bar.
It now only needs Government approval to get the go-ahead.
The original two options to cater for an estimated 1,220 needed across the region were either 115 more pitches (space for one or two caravans) 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 - all at Bell Bar.
Assembly 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 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.
"I am going to look to see this changed in parliament."
He thought there were more 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".
Communities group the North Mymms Green Belt Society has vowed to fight the plan, including setting up a petition.