A shortlist of sites for new Gypsy and Traveller pitches in Chronicle Country is due to be discussed.
Central Beds Council’s sustainable communities overview and scrutiny committee will be debating the new sites at a meeting on Thursday (February 28)
The pitches have been put forward as part of the council’s Gypsy and Traveller Local plan.
Prospective pitches are located around the area, with targeted sites including land north of Arlesey Road in Stotfold, north of Bury Hill and east of Potton, south of Dunton Lane and west of Dunton and south of Edworth Road and east of Langford.
There are additional possible sites on land north of Standalone Warren in Haynes, north of Malthouse Lane in Stotfold, to the north-west of Potton, to the north, east and west of Sutton and to the north of Dunton.
The plan, which is being led by Councillor Nigel Young, executive member for sustainable communities – strategic planning and economic development aims to help discourage unauthorised encampments.
Once the plan is in place Central Beds Council will be able to direct Gypsy and Traveller families to the specific sites.
The council hopes that installing permanent, designated sites will help Gypsy and traveller communities to settle better and also reduce potential tension with neighbours.
In his report on the plan that will be discussed at the meeting, Councillor Young says: “Gypsies and Travellers can sometimes find themselves in a cycle of ‘enforced’ nomadism, being continually moved on by the authorities because of the shortage of authorised sites.
“As a result, Gypsies and Travellers are often more disadvantaged than any other ethnic group in terms of access to healthcare and education.
“The lack of authorised public sites and the difficulties associated with getting planning permission for private sites has meant that Gypsies and Travellers have set up home on land belonging to others or on their own land without permission.”
He adds: “Approval of the Plan could help to close achievement and health inequalities, reduce racial tensions associated with unauthorised sites, increase the participation of Gypsy and Traveller communities in decision making and increase a sense of belonging.”
Writing on the Biggleswade Chronicle Facebook page, readers were broadly supportive of the plan.
Lisa Pay said: “I have no objections to travellers! At the end of the day we all need somewhere to live.”
Cheryl Ebojones added: “Surely we should be working towards a more inclusive plan with the travelling community.
“As others have suggested, sites that feel mutually acceptable to both travelling and non-travelling communities.
“This of course requires compromise from both.”
Diane Chudley said: “I have no objection to travellers. I moved to Potton knowing there is a site and have visited it on many occasions.”
A public consultation is also due to take place, though the plan is not due to come into effect until summer next year.
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