Bristol

Somerset travellers site search continues after vote

Six possible sites, including one at Stanton Wick, are being considered for a travellers site
Image caption Six possible sites, including one at Stanton Wick, are being considered for a travellers site

A council's search for permanent Gypsy and travellers sites will continue after a failed bid to halt it.

Bath and North East Somerset Council (B&NES) voted to continue its consultation at a public debate called by the Conservative's on Monday.

The authority, which has no authorised permanent sites, is currently inviting views on six possible locations.

Concerns were raised in a Conservative motion which was debated, but not supported, at the meeting.

'Serious risk'

Conservative councillor Malcolm Hanney claimed the meeting had been "very disappointing" for the residents and communities who had attended.

"The council hasn't paused at appropriate times to review what it should do and it is carrying on blindly and I think it is running a serious risk of judicial review and or claims for compensation from people who have been very seriously affected," he said.

But Tim Ball, the councillor in charge of planning for the Lib Dem-led authority, denied the claims and said the council was listening to the views of local residents.

"We are listening very carefully to residents on the consultation process and there are some very strong arguments coming from Stanton Wick, part of Keynsham and part of Radstock, as to why we shouldn't look to allocate sites there," he said.

The six 'preferred' sites - Stanton Wick, Whitchurch, Radstock, Keynsham, Newbridge and Twerton - are under public consultation until 18 July.

After that, the results will be considered at a Cabinet meeting on 12 September when specific site proposals will be taken forward for further consultation.

A council spokesman said B&NES was the only authority in the West of England not to have any authorised permanent sites.

The district has had 20 unauthorised sites over the last 10 years, which has resulted in community concerns about environmental impact and the costs of site monitoring and clean-up after the travellers have left.

According to the council, the level of need has been identified as 22 permanent pitches and 20 transit pitches.

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