EHDC have put back the timetable for the short-stay travelers site until "at least Summer 2007"
Attached is the correspondance received from EHDC.East Hampshire’s quest for a short-stay site for travellers has been put on ice until at least summer 2007 because of new announcements at regional level.
In September, the South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA) confirmed that it will be looking at the provision of sites for travellers across the region as part of its work developing the South East Plan.
Councillor Patrick Burridge, East Hampshire’s portfolio holder for development, said: “We still want to identify a short-stay site for travellers because it will help police clear illegal sites on public land. We have already said that we do not want to go it alone without other councils working with us, in case East Hampshire became a magnet for travellers, so I welcome the opportunity to take part in a regional
initiative. It is really important that we get this right and it makes sense to slot into the SEERA process and timetable. It would be foolish to rush this process.”
SEERA intends to publish its proposals for how many pitches should be in each district in December 2007, and then hold a 12-week public consultation. Before then, it will be inviting councils to comment on the accommodation needs of gypsies and travellers.
Working together, Hampshire councils had already commissioned a study into travellers’ housing needs. This is due to be published on 28 November 2006, and will then be discussed by the county and district councils’ gypsy and traveller liaison group before they pass the results to SEERA by June 2007.
That group will also continue to work on a coordinated Hampshire strategy for travellers.
The council’s business director, Bill Price, said: “A lot has happened since we agreed our criteria for a short-stay site in January this year. The situation is quite different to a year ago and we have recommended to councillors that we pause for a while. When we discussed our proposals at
two public meetings in East Hampshire, local residents were very clear about the need for us to work closely with other government bodies, and so we are happy to take account of what is going on in neighbouring areas and review progress in the summer. Until then, we will not be doing any more
work on identifying potential sites.”
The council’s working group, which includes councillors from both political parties, officers from the district and county councils, and the police, had been looking at potential sites to compare against the agreed criteria. Two weeks ago, the council published a list of those sites that had been rejected by the group. It posted the list on its website and sent it to the media after a local newspaper and a member of the public had asked for the full list of sites.
The council held back details of three privately-owned sites because disclosure would be likely to harm the commercial interests of the landowner and the council. The council stated that, if a transaction could
not proceed or if the terms were unfair, it would not be in the public interest. The council believes it would not be fair to the landowners to reveal that their land has been considered, especially as none of the landowners has yet responded. These reasons still stand, although the council will not now be pursuing the landowners for the time being.
Bill Price added: “We are committed to holding a full public consultation before any final decisions are made about any site’s location. This has been our approach all along. It is why we held two initial meetings in public and then listened to what residents were telling us before holding any more. We will continue to be open, and provide all the information we can in good time and make sure that local people have plenty of opportunity to make their views known.”
The council’s webpage on this consultation can be found at www.easthants.gov.uk/travellers. It includes the current agreed criteria and the list of rejected sites.
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