Challenge over gipsy sites expansion plan
8:20am Wednesday 1st August 2012 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.
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