MORE than 260 people have signed a petition against plans for land in Blaina to become a traveller’s site.

Blaenau Gwent councillors will meet next month to decide whether to approve the plan – which refers to land at Glynmilwr, Stones Houses in a wooded area between Surgery Road and High Street in Blaina.

In a report to the council’s planning committee, the owner of the land, Robert Smith, said he has lived a “traditional traveller’s life” at a variety of places including the nearby Cwmcrachen travellers site in Nantyglo and a private site in Hirwaun.

He said his wife is disabled and the travelling life “now poses many problems”. The couple and their seven children now want a more settled life with access to education provision.

Mr Smith put in the application after an investigation by the council found the family already using the site without planning permission.

He has now put in a formal application to change the use of site including permission for three static caravans and four touring caravans.

A petition against the plans has so far gathered 267 signatories and three letters of objection have been received.

It has raised questions over whether a new traveller’s site is needed when there is a Cwmcrachen site nearby at Nantyglo and the access of the road is not appropriate for increased traffic.

Other questions raised included: “Constant worry of anti-social behaviour and crime documented by national police and court records that anti-social behaviour and crime can increase in the vicinity of traveller sites which will cause property values to fall and sometimes impossible to sell.

“Will the Council compensate people for the loss of value to their homes and for the increase in house and car insurance premiums?”

A report to the council’s planning committee said: “A more settled existence can prove beneficial to some gypsies and travellers in terms of access to health and education services, and employment and can contribute to greater integration and social inclusion within local communities.

“Nevertheless the ability to travel remains an important part of gypsy and traveller culture, hence the applicants desire to retain the touring caravans.”

But council officers have recommended councillors refuse the application because of highway safety concerns. They say the access lane to the proposed site is “sub-standard”.