RESIDENTS have told a council inspector travellers would not be safe if plans for a gipsy site on Hartridge Farm road were to go ahead.

Yesterday’s hearing examining the council’s Local Development Plan, focused on the three gipsy and traveller sites proposed by the plan, which include Hartridge Farm Road, Celtic Way in Coedkernew and Ringland allotments.

The council has identified an immediate need for three separate families which require a total of 23 pitches. It predicts the need to rise to 43 pitches by 2026.

Councillors and residents raised concerns about the already high levels of anti-social behaviour in the Ringland area.

Frank Weston, from the Ringland Matters Group, said: “The crime figures for Ringland are the highest. The Bettws site was rejected because of the potential for anti-social behaviour.”

Councillor Emma Corten said: “There have been issues with perceptions of traveller families. My main concern is for the safety of the children who will occupy the site.”

Carly Pile lives in one of the houses on Hartridge Farm Road, which borders the site. She said the site could “dominate” the area and echoed Cllr Corten’s concerns.

She said: “My main issue is the safety of the children going to the school and the safety of the travellers’ children.”

Head of planning, Mark Hand said: “I think some of the fears come from a fear of the unknown. From the council’s view, we already know these families and don’t envisage the problems residents are concerned about.”

Former councillor, David Hando, a trustee of the Newport Traveller Sites Study Group and a resident of Ringland said his concerns regarded the effect on Llanwern High – previously Hartridge school. He claimed all the work done to build up education in the east of the city will be undermined.

He said: “We built a new school to persuade people to come to this school and it worked. They are proud of the school. That is all going to be put at risk.

“It’s not the effect of the traveller children in the school, it’s the perception of parents. They will not send their children to a school with a traveller site on the doorstep.”

But Mr Hand disagreed. He said: “I can’t see a reason why people would view a school differently because of who is next door.”

Under the Housing Act, the council is obliged to identify and address the need in its area for Gipsy and traveller sites. The Inspector’s report on the LDP will be published later this year.