Challenge over gipsy sites expansion plan

First published in News

A TORFAEN councillor challenged the recent cabinet decision to expand Gipsy and Traveller sites in the borough.

Cwmynyscoy Neighbourhood Action Group (CwmNAG) were supported by their local councillor Neil Waite who challenged the decision, to allow more caravan sites in Cwmynyscoy.

Chair of CwmNAG Adrian Bold said: "The people of Cwmynyscoy are appalled that their ward is proposed to be the only area of Torfaen to have Gipsy and Traveller accommodation with over 100 caravans in Upper and Lower Race and none anywhere else. "There are concerns that this high concentration of caravans will cause significant problems and CwmNAG believes that it is time that Torfaen Council listened to the settled residents of Cwmynyscoy and properly and independently assessed the impact of these proposals upon the ward and the Pontypool area."

Cabinet members recently approved proposals for a £3.6 million expansion of the existing site based around the Shepherd’s Hill site in Pontypool.

Plans would also see part of the unused Race football pitch being used to accommodate further caravan pitches, and the privately owned Rose Cottage site would provide ten additional pitches to help alleviate Gipsy and Traveller housing needs.

Speaking at the meeting Cllr Waite said: "If I hadn’t put in this challenge this matter would have been dealt with today.

He added: "It’s a disgrace. The local community are being given the ultimatum that they can have a football pitch only if they agree to the Gipsy site."

Cllr Waite said CwmNAG had not been given sufficient time to respond to the council report about the expansion proposals of the site.

He also argued that the objection to the inadequacy of the assessment of anti-social impacts was not taken into account properly and that Welsh Assembly guidelines are being ignored.

Mr Bold added: "It seems there might be a hidden agenda here - which keeps a difficult problem confined in a poor area of Torfaen and away from richer and more scenic parts of the borough."

Deputy chief executive for Torfaen Council Peter Durkin said: "The council has a duty to make provision for Gipsy and Traveller sites and also has a duty of care to the existing residents in the Shepherd’s Hill site.

He added: "I am happy the cabinet decisions serve the interests of the county borough as a whole and meets our requirements."

An amendment was put forward by Cllr Brian Mawby to note the cabinet decision and refer it to the special council meeting in September with further information being provided.

An extraordinary meeting of the council is expected to be heard on September 13 at 4pm in Pontypool Active Living Centre to consider the council’s Local Development Plan including Gipsy site provision.

Comments (10)

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11:21am Wed 1 Aug 12

Hesaidwhat! says...

The Cwmynscoy Neighbourhood Action Group is a one issue group that has very little to do with neighbourliness and a lot to do with intolerance based on ethnicity. Of course this isn't helped by the thinly veiled bigotry of their 'pet councillor' who pre election was on Shepherds Hill site canvassing for votes! Oh Deary me, what a complicated world we live in!
The Cwmynscoy Neighbourhood Action Group is a one issue group that has very little to do with neighbourliness and a lot to do with intolerance based on ethnicity. Of course this isn't helped by the thinly veiled bigotry of their 'pet councillor' who pre election was on Shepherds Hill site canvassing for votes! Oh Deary me, what a complicated world we live in! Hesaidwhat!
  • Score: 0

2:28pm Wed 1 Aug 12

CwmNAG1 says...

It is clear that Hesaidwhat has little idea of what the Cwmynyscoy Neighbourhood Action Group stands for. The people of Cwmynyscoy have lived with caravan sites for many years and make no objection to their continued existence at current levels. Indeed they, and Cuncillor Waite, would dearly like to see improvements in the conditions for the people on those sites as well as in the ward in general. However, they also have experience of the difficult social issues which result from some of the people who live in the caravan sites and some of the people who visit. This is not a condemnation of the Gypsy and Traveller community. This is not "intolerance based on ethnicity". This is just the desire not to have an even greater level of problems and is based on the real experience of ordinary people living in the ward.

If the proposed projects go ahead the numbers of caravans in Cwmynyscoy will increase to over 100 in a small, semi-rural area - with no accommodation for the Gypsy and Traveller community anywhere else in Torfaens 24 wards. Why is that?

Yes it is a complicated world - and not made any simpler by comments which suggest there is discrimination where there is not. By all means come and discuss the issues in detail with CwmNAG - we would be delighted to find a solution which is generally acceptable - we can't be more neighbourly than that!
It is clear that Hesaidwhat has little idea of what the Cwmynyscoy Neighbourhood Action Group stands for. The people of Cwmynyscoy have lived with caravan sites for many years and make no objection to their continued existence at current levels. Indeed they, and Cuncillor Waite, would dearly like to see improvements in the conditions for the people on those sites as well as in the ward in general. However, they also have experience of the difficult social issues which result from some of the people who live in the caravan sites and some of the people who visit. This is not a condemnation of the Gypsy and Traveller community. This is not "intolerance based on ethnicity". This is just the desire not to have an even greater level of problems and is based on the real experience of ordinary people living in the ward. If the proposed projects go ahead the numbers of caravans in Cwmynyscoy will increase to over 100 in a small, semi-rural area - with no accommodation for the Gypsy and Traveller community anywhere else in Torfaens 24 wards. Why is that? Yes it is a complicated world - and not made any simpler by comments which suggest there is discrimination where there is not. By all means come and discuss the issues in detail with CwmNAG - we would be delighted to find a solution which is generally acceptable - we can't be more neighbourly than that! CwmNAG1
  • Score: 0

4:37pm Wed 1 Aug 12

Flossymoss says...

If the old adage ‘truth lives in brevity’ holds any water we can see who has the moral high ground between Hesaidwhat and CwmNag1!
How unashamedly ridiculous is it to suggest that an increase in the population of a particular ethnic group will bring with it an increase in anti-social behaviour and crime, and then maintain that holding that viewpoint is not racist. It is. I hate to burst ‘Cuncillor’ Waite’s (how Freudian!) and CwmNag’s bubble , but there is no link between race and criminality. Fact.
A cursory glance in the CwmNag tool shed will reveal the fact they have an axe that needs grinding.
If the old adage ‘truth lives in brevity’ holds any water we can see who has the moral high ground between Hesaidwhat and CwmNag1! How unashamedly ridiculous is it to suggest that an increase in the population of a particular ethnic group will bring with it an increase in anti-social behaviour and crime, and then maintain that holding that viewpoint is not racist. It is. I hate to burst ‘Cuncillor’ [sic] Waite’s (how Freudian!) and CwmNag’s bubble , but there is no link between race and criminality. Fact. A cursory glance in the CwmNag tool shed will reveal the fact they have an axe that needs grinding. Flossymoss
  • Score: 0

2:44am Thu 2 Aug 12

CwmNAG1 says...

Please point out where it is said that there is a link between race and criminality. I have certainly not said that. I have pointed to real issues caused by some residents of the caravan sites in Cwmynyscoy or visitors and expressed the desire that this is not increased. I have not made a blanket condemnation of any group nor will I. This is the ridiculous state we have reached - that it is not possible to make provable observations or report ones experience without being accused of being racist. For instance, at the moment there is an illegal encampment of several caravans on the childrens playing fields in Upper Race. It seems that the people involved have been offered places on Shepherds Hill but have refused to stay there, though they are apparently visiting connections in the area. The Council have applied to the court to move them. If the encampment remains the children will not be able to begin their training in August. From previous experience it is quite likely that there will need to be a clean up operation when the encampment is eventually moved to prevent injury to the children. Now I do not care what ethnic group these intruders come from - that is not the point. What matters is that they have no consideration of the consequences of their actions for the local community - despite the fact that there are perfectly suitable facilities available within half a mile. Just one of many issues with provable connections to the local caravan sites within Cwmynyscoy. This is not racist - it is demonstrable fact - one of many.
Please point out where it is said that there is a link between race and criminality. I have certainly not said that. I have pointed to real issues caused by some residents of the caravan sites in Cwmynyscoy or visitors and expressed the desire that this is not increased. I have not made a blanket condemnation of any group nor will I. This is the ridiculous state we have reached - that it is not possible to make provable observations or report ones experience without being accused of being racist. For instance, at the moment there is an illegal encampment of several caravans on the childrens playing fields in Upper Race. It seems that the people involved have been offered places on Shepherds Hill but have refused to stay there, though they are apparently visiting connections in the area. The Council have applied to the court to move them. If the encampment remains the children will not be able to begin their training in August. From previous experience it is quite likely that there will need to be a clean up operation when the encampment is eventually moved to prevent injury to the children. Now I do not care what ethnic group these intruders come from - that is not the point. What matters is that they have no consideration of the consequences of their actions for the local community - despite the fact that there are perfectly suitable facilities available within half a mile. Just one of many issues with provable connections to the local caravan sites within Cwmynyscoy. This is not racist - it is demonstrable fact - one of many. CwmNAG1
  • Score: 0

10:51am Thu 2 Aug 12

Flossymoss says...

If all these allegations are ‘proveable’ why haven’t CwmNag done so? Here is your opportunity on a public forum. If you are really suggesting that your only point is that some people who live in caravans are involved in crime and anti-social behaviour, then I assume that CwmNag are equally passionate about preventing any housing developments in the area? Because as we all know some non-gypsy people who live in houses are involved in crime and anti-social behaviour.
Thankfully we have the brilliant minds of CwmNag who have applied the full weight of their combined intellect to address the crime and anti-social behaviour problem. Their answer? Don’t provide the housing you are legally obliged to supply. Then no one can live in the area in question-Hey Presto! Problem solved! I don’t think that idea will be getting you a position on one of Cameron’s think tanks anytime soon!
As for broadening the argument (an oft used tactic when people are losing the original argument) to an illegal encampment. It is good to see that you are having a change of mind and supporting site expansion?
Torfaen Councils web site states, (I did my homework) that Shepherd’s Hill only has 1 transit pitch? You say that there are several illegally sited caravans in the area? Seems like an argument for site expansion to me, to prevent any future occurrence? ‘Several’ into one just don’t go!
As fun as this has been I am going to end our correspondence here. Two reasons. Firstly, the discussion is going nowhere, and out of desperation is being taken off topic. And secondly you seem like the type of person to whom the last word is important? So I will give that to you, or one of your chums.
If all these allegations are ‘proveable’ why haven’t CwmNag done so? Here is your opportunity on a public forum. If you are really suggesting that your only point is that some people who live in caravans are involved in crime and anti-social behaviour, then I assume that CwmNag are equally passionate about preventing any housing developments in the area? Because as we all know some non-gypsy people who live in houses are involved in crime and anti-social behaviour. Thankfully we have the brilliant minds of CwmNag who have applied the full weight of their combined intellect to address the crime and anti-social behaviour problem. Their answer? Don’t provide the housing you are legally obliged to supply. Then no one can live in the area in question-Hey Presto! Problem solved! I don’t think that idea will be getting you a position on one of Cameron’s think tanks anytime soon! As for broadening the argument (an oft used tactic when people are losing the original argument) to an illegal encampment. It is good to see that you are having a change of mind and supporting site expansion? Torfaen Councils web site states, (I did my homework) that Shepherd’s Hill only has 1 transit pitch? You say that there are several illegally sited caravans in the area? Seems like an argument for site expansion to me, to prevent any future occurrence? ‘Several’ into one just don’t go! As fun as this has been I am going to end our correspondence here. Two reasons. Firstly, the discussion is going nowhere, and out of desperation is being taken off topic. And secondly you seem like the type of person to whom the last word is important? So I will give that to you, or one of your chums. Flossymoss
  • Score: 0

1:25pm Thu 2 Aug 12

CwmNAG1 says...

Thanks - or is it just that you cannot defend the indefensible?
Thanks - or is it just that you cannot defend the indefensible? CwmNAG1
  • Score: 0

4:42pm Thu 2 Aug 12

rossivale says...

Flossymoss, there is no argument for site expansion in my opinion, as when I spoke to a member of TBC who is dealing directly with the 'illegally pitched travellers' I was told "there are several pitches vacant on Shepherds Hill, so they were given the opportunity to move down to there, but they have declined that offer, so we will now proceded down the legal chanells" No matter how many 'transit' pitches are allocated onto/into Shepherds Hill, the travelling travellers will always decline to use them, as this would mean actually contributing some £ into Torfaen, ie, they would need to pay a rent!
Flossymoss, there is no argument for site expansion in my opinion, as when I spoke to a member of TBC who is dealing directly with the 'illegally pitched travellers' I was told "there are several pitches vacant on Shepherds Hill, so they were given the opportunity to move down to there, but they have declined that offer, so we will now proceded down the legal chanells" No matter how many 'transit' pitches are allocated onto/into Shepherds Hill, the travelling travellers will always decline to use them, as this would mean actually contributing some £ into Torfaen, ie, they would need to pay a rent! rossivale
  • Score: 0

1:14pm Tue 14 Aug 12

shepherdshilltenant says...

i think it's time that someone who actually lives at shepherds hill had a say!! just to clear up a few things i would like to point out yes it is true that there is only one transit pitch on the shepherds hill site and yes it is true that there is one officially vacant pitch however the vacant pitch is and was in use at the time of the illegal encampment, and as it has been pointed out several most definatly does not go into one. i would also like to point out that as torfaen borough council is already in breech of health and safety due to overcrowding on the shepherds hill site it would not seem reasonable to put even more famillies at risk by adding to this overcrowding. another point that needs to be made clear is that the planned expansion has at no time been authorised for more caravans, but is infact a solution to the overcrowding. so for the people of cwmnag let me make this very clear, more pitches are planned to be made so that the existing tenants can be spread out solving the fire safety issues, no-one else from outside the area will be coming to live here, we need the space ourselves. i am also vexed that the spokesman for cwmnag mr. adrian bold feels he has such a right to have things his way when he has only come to live in this area (from england i might add) in the last 20 or so years, and that in his oppinion the travellers of this community who have links to this area (proved by the census' taken well into the 1800's) should be moved to a differet ward, any ward but his it would seem!! if he didn't want to live near travellers why move to this ward to begin with,and more to the point instead of wanting us to leave, why doesn't he? the travellers are quite happy where they are and DO NOT wish to move. our two-faced councillor mr. neil waite would also do well to actually speak to the shepherds hill residents, or is it that our votes were good enough but our living conditions don't matter, at the time of his election when he visited the site he promised us his support over the issues he is now kicking against!! i am a non traveller living in the shepherds hill community and can see so much predjudice from cwmnag and their supporters, and i ask them publicly to produce evidence of the crime caused in this ward and the proof that the travelling community has caused it.( i bet they can't). it seems to me that if cwmnag had their way the gypsy traveller community would be banished not just from this ward but from the face of the earth, one word springs to my mind nazi's!! but don't worry cwmnag it could be worse, we might just decide to pitch our caravans in your streets in protest!! your giving us a bad name, and mud sticks so we might as well do something. my reply to the free press was never printed, proving that no-one wants our oppinion, the constant objections to the plans for shepherds hill is now trickling into the schools our children attend, if we were from any other ethnic minority or group these objections would never be raised. just to finish i would also like to know why there are no objections to the plans for a new football pitch? there are claims that this pitch is dependant on the site expansion, while this may or may not be true i'd like to point out that only for the funding recieved for the gipsy traveller community to have ground testing done it is unlikely the playing field would be provided, so if this is true shoudn't the portion of the money for the testing of the proposed playing field be refunded? looks like it's ok to take from the travelling community but where is your give?
i think it's time that someone who actually lives at shepherds hill had a say!! just to clear up a few things i would like to point out yes it is true that there is only one transit pitch on the shepherds hill site and yes it is true that there is one officially vacant pitch however the vacant pitch is and was in use at the time of the illegal encampment, and as it has been pointed out several most definatly does not go into one. i would also like to point out that as torfaen borough council is already in breech of health and safety due to overcrowding on the shepherds hill site it would not seem reasonable to put even more famillies at risk by adding to this overcrowding. another point that needs to be made clear is that the planned expansion has at no time been authorised for more caravans, but is infact a solution to the overcrowding. so for the people of cwmnag let me make this very clear, more pitches are planned to be made so that the existing tenants can be spread out solving the fire safety issues, no-one else from outside the area will be coming to live here, we need the space ourselves. i am also vexed that the spokesman for cwmnag mr. adrian bold feels he has such a right to have things his way when he has only come to live in this area (from england i might add) in the last 20 or so years, and that in his oppinion the travellers of this community who have links to this area (proved by the census' taken well into the 1800's) should be moved to a differet ward, any ward but his it would seem!! if he didn't want to live near travellers why move to this ward to begin with,and more to the point instead of wanting us to leave, why doesn't he? the travellers are quite happy where they are and DO NOT wish to move. our two-faced councillor mr. neil waite would also do well to actually speak to the shepherds hill residents, or is it that our votes were good enough but our living conditions don't matter, at the time of his election when he visited the site he promised us his support over the issues he is now kicking against!! i am a non traveller living in the shepherds hill community and can see so much predjudice from cwmnag and their supporters, and i ask them publicly to produce evidence of the crime caused in this ward and the proof that the travelling community has caused it.( i bet they can't). it seems to me that if cwmnag had their way the gypsy traveller community would be banished not just from this ward but from the face of the earth, one word springs to my mind nazi's!! but don't worry cwmnag it could be worse, we might just decide to pitch our caravans in your streets in protest!! your giving us a bad name, and mud sticks so we might as well do something. my reply to the free press was never printed, proving that no-one wants our oppinion, the constant objections to the plans for shepherds hill is now trickling into the schools our children attend, if we were from any other ethnic minority or group these objections would never be raised. just to finish i would also like to know why there are no objections to the plans for a new football pitch? there are claims that this pitch is dependant on the site expansion, while this may or may not be true i'd like to point out that only for the funding recieved for the gipsy traveller community to have ground testing done it is unlikely the playing field would be provided, so if this is true shoudn't the portion of the money for the testing of the proposed playing field be refunded? looks like it's ok to take from the travelling community but where is your give? shepherdshilltenant
  • Score: 0

10:35pm Tue 14 Aug 12

shepherdshilltenant says...

just another point i forgot to make earlier, most of the bricks and mortar type accommodation throughout the torfaen borough has either already had major renovations or are due to, the plans for shepherds hill are exactly that, it is only through poor planning and lack of maintainence that thing are so bad, are we not entitled to the same? with the rent at £70 per week and an additional £60 per week management charge you would think so!! but you will have to ask torfaen borough council why we pay so much when we still have to provide our own homes.for approx £85 per week the house dwelling community get several bedrooms a heated bathroom, kitchen, living room, garden etc, we get an undermined, unsafe, overcrowded plot of tarmac and concrete, a toilet, kitchen sink and a shower that is too cold to be able to use!!! and cwmnag think they have it rough!!
just another point i forgot to make earlier, most of the bricks and mortar type accommodation throughout the torfaen borough has either already had major renovations or are due to, the plans for shepherds hill are exactly that, it is only through poor planning and lack of maintainence that thing are so bad, are we not entitled to the same? with the rent at £70 per week and an additional £60 per week management charge you would think so!! but you will have to ask torfaen borough council why we pay so much when we still have to provide our own homes.for approx £85 per week the house dwelling community get several bedrooms a heated bathroom, kitchen, living room, garden etc, we get an undermined, unsafe, overcrowded plot of tarmac and concrete, a toilet, kitchen sink and a shower that is too cold to be able to use!!! and cwmnag think they have it rough!! shepherdshilltenant
  • Score: 0

10:35pm Tue 14 Aug 12

shepherdshilltenant says...

just another point i forgot to make earlier, most of the bricks and mortar type accommodation throughout the torfaen borough has either already had major renovations or are due to, the plans for shepherds hill are exactly that, it is only through poor planning and lack of maintainence that thing are so bad, are we not entitled to the same? with the rent at £70 per week and an additional £60 per week management charge you would think so!! but you will have to ask torfaen borough council why we pay so much when we still have to provide our own homes.for approx £85 per week the house dwelling community get several bedrooms a heated bathroom, kitchen, living room, garden etc, we get an undermined, unsafe, overcrowded plot of tarmac and concrete, a toilet, kitchen sink and a shower that is too cold to be able to use!!! and cwmnag think they have it rough!!
just another point i forgot to make earlier, most of the bricks and mortar type accommodation throughout the torfaen borough has either already had major renovations or are due to, the plans for shepherds hill are exactly that, it is only through poor planning and lack of maintainence that thing are so bad, are we not entitled to the same? with the rent at £70 per week and an additional £60 per week management charge you would think so!! but you will have to ask torfaen borough council why we pay so much when we still have to provide our own homes.for approx £85 per week the house dwelling community get several bedrooms a heated bathroom, kitchen, living room, garden etc, we get an undermined, unsafe, overcrowded plot of tarmac and concrete, a toilet, kitchen sink and a shower that is too cold to be able to use!!! and cwmnag think they have it rough!! shepherdshilltenant
  • Score: 0

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