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Potton Town Council chair’s letter about Traveller sites

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Here is the full version of Potton Town Council chairman Alan Leggatt’s letter, which appeared in a shortened version in the Biggleswade Chronicle of Friday, January 24.

Within the last week Potton Town Council has attended both the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Executive Members’ Committee meetings of Central Bedfordshire Council to make representations on the revised Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan.

At the OSC meeting on January 14 in relation to Site 58 (Potton Road, The Heath) it was suggested by Councillor Nigel Young that “The Overview and Scrutiny Committee may wish to remove this site from the plan in order to consider the expansion of the existing Potton site outside of the plan making process.”

In the representation I stated on behalf of Potton Town Council that whilst it is welcomed that Site 58 should be removed from the shortlist, Potton Town Council remain totally opposed to geographical expansion of the existing site.

Anybody who is familiar with the 40 year history of this site will know of the problems that were encountered when the previous authority - Mid Bedfordshire District Council - extended it in 1990 to twice its current size.

The site became unmanageable to the point where MBDC, in 1996, had to completely refurbish it and reduce the boundary and number of pitches to 14 at great expense to the tax payer.

Since those times there has been a more harmonious relationship between the residents at the site and the community in Potton which the town council would not want compromised.

During his response to the representation, Councillor Young stated that as a “windfall” site, 13 additional pitches could be provided, bringing it back to the size it was in 1990.

In subsequent discussions by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee it was disappointing that not one member saw fit to debate the issue presented or challenge the proposal.

How can a scrutiny committee scrutinise anything if it does not probe or challenge the information before it?

As with all the proposals tabled, the committee unanimously agreed to support.

At the meeting of the Executive Committee on Tuesday, January 21 a similar representation was made to members with a plea that they consider and debate the issue.

Again, not one member raised any points on this issue and as with all the proposals, they were nodded through unanimously to go on to a meeting of the full council next week.

What is more frustrating is that because expansion of the existing site would be considered as a “windfall”site it no longer falls within the local plan and cannot be discussed as part of that process. It now will come under normal development and planning processes.

Potton Town Council will continue to fight for the best interests of all its communities.

 

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