Devon

Devon Gypsy fears over number of pitches

Sally Woodbury
Image caption Sally Woodbury said local authorities would not have the same impetus to provide sites for travellers

A Devon Gypsy campaigner has said changes to planning guidance will make it harder for councils to provide legal pitches for gypsies and travellers.

The government's Localism Bill is abolishing regional planning strategies which set targets for traveller sites.

Instead the government is allowing local authorities which want to build sites to bid for money from a £4.5bn affordable homes fund.

The government has said the Bill will mean more power for local people.

But Sally Woodbury of the National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups said without targets, councils would find it hard to establish sites.

She said: "I think there is a need for targets because it made councils aware that they had to do something.

"The problem is that nobody wants a Gypsy site and the councils can overlook the old targets."

Under the targets, councils were obliged to provide 1,600 pitches for travellers in the South West by 2011, but the BBC Politics Show understands that about 50 have been built so far.

South West Devon MP Gary Streeter said: "The Localism Bill is all about local people.

"I willingly accept that not many travellers' sites are going to be built under the new system, but not many were built under the old system.

"Not many communities want travellers' sites and of course local councils reflect that."

Sally Woodbury and Gary Streeter were interviewed for the BBC Politics Show South West, shown at 1200 on 20 February on BBC One.

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