Gypsy and traveller plan ‘underestimates need’ claims Government inspector

Central Bedfordshire Council has adopted a new policy on sex establishments

Central Bedfordshire Council has adopted a new policy on sex establishments - Credit: Archant

A council plan has underestimated the number of gypsy and traveller pitches required, according to an inspector.

Central Beds Council’s draft Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan had planned to introduce 66 new pitches by 2023.

However James Ellis, inspector for the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: “Even if the figures are assumed to be correct, which I do not consider to be the case, there is evidence that the identified need for pitches will not be met within the envisaged period.”

The council is now considering changes to its plan in order to have a better chance of reaching their target and have delayed its presentation of the plan to the overview and scrutiny committee. One of the proposed sites would be based at Fairfield Park, Stotfold.

Cllr Barry Dack, chairman of Fairfield Parish Council, said: “I feel that members of the public have been completely left in the dark on this matter. I’m not sure what exactly is wrong with the original plan, but it would be very frustrating to see months of many people’s hard work and effort be completely wasted. I hope that this matter can be resolved sooner rather than later.”

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Cllr Nigel Young, executive member for sustainable communities, said: “We see this as a useful opportunity to look again at some of the issues raised, consider our evidence and possibly make some changes going forward.

“We will be looking at the points raised by the planning inspector and Secretary of State and consider their impact on our approach. We will make sure that if there are changes, people will have the chance to comment on them and we can seek to make adjustments accordingly.

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“As soon as we have more information on the plan and changes to it, we will be letting people know and taking it to our overview and scrutiny committee sometime in the new year.”

Despite the plan originally being scheduled for publication this month, it is now expected to be released in early 2014.

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