THE WELSH secretary has been accused of stirring up racial hatred after campaign material posted through letterboxes in Monmouthshire was slammed by an organisation fighting for an oft-persecuted minority group.

Secretary of state for Wales and Monmouth MP David Davies recently published a series of leaflets which mention Monmouthshire County Council's plans to establish a number of Gypsy and Traveller sites in the region.

The leaflets contain the question 'would you like to see a traveller site next to your house?'.

This has drawn the ire of Travelling Ahead, an advocacy service and part of the charity TGP Cymru, who work with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people across Wales.

Trudy Aspinwall, team manager at Travelling Ahead, said: "We have been contacted by many people deeply concerned about the leaflet. This includes people from the Gypsy and Traveller communities as well as the wider public."

Gwent Police have also confirmed to the BBC that they are considering “the content of the leaflet and its impact on the Gypsy and Traveller and settled communities in Monmouthshire".

The leaflet, Travelling Ahead say, is designed to stir up objections "based on prejudice".

"You only have to look at the title of the leaflet ’Gypsy and Traveller site coming to your area soon!’," Ms Aspinwall said.

She said the question on the reverse of the leaflet "would you like to see a travellers site next to your house?", if changed to another group such as Jewish people, disabled people or Pakistani people, would have a "clear inference".

Ms Aspinwall said: "No-one would find this acceptable and it would be seen for what it is.

"A clear breach of equality laws not to discriminate on the grounds of race - and a breach of the laws that prohibit hate speech and the publishing or distributing written material which could have the effect of stirring up racial hatred."

She said this was made "all the more concerning" as it comes from a Member of Parliament with "who seems to forget that Gypsy and Traveller people also make up his constituents".

Monmouthshire County Council have recently begun consultations to identify land which could be suitable to develop for a Gypsy or Traveller site in the future.

The proposed sites have already drawn criticism - with Conservatives bemoaning the decision to hold public consultations over the summer period when "many families may be preoccupied with childcare or otherwise unable to fully participate and make their voices heard".

"There is already a hostile environment, with racist comments being posted on social media," Ms Aspinwall said.

"Gypsy and Traveller families feel concerned about even identifying themselves and making their need for site provision known to the council.

"Imagine how it feels to have these sorts of leaflets circulating as soon as you or your council try to make a home for your family."

Travelling Ahead say that racism against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities is "too often not challenged and perpetrators are not held to account".

This latest furore is, the group say, especially timely, with the anniversary of the Porajmos falling on August 2.

The Porajmos - which translates as 'the devouring' - was the Roma Holocaust enacted by the Nazis in Europe during the 1930s and 40s.

Mr Davies, said: “The location of authorised and unauthorised traveller sites is a legitimate matter for public debate and scrutiny. It is entirely valid to criticise a lack of wide public consultation by a council. 

"I have been contacted by many upset residents at the shortness of the consultation and the proposed locations for the sites.

"I have also been told that many from the gypsy and traveller community are also upset at the proposed locations for the sites. This is not a criticism of the gypsy and traveller community.”