Senior councillors have resolved to press ahead with a consultation on eight ‘preferred’ sites for Gypsies and travellers in Warwick district - despite a call for a re-think from their colleagues.
A group of councillors had temporarily halted a decision made last month to approve officials’ proposals for the chosen sites - which include the site of the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre in Radford Semele and the Leamington FC ground - due to concerns that the public consultation period was too short and that one of the earmarked sites was in the green belt.
And Independent Whitnash councillor Judy Falp felt particularly unsettled by officers’ assertions that the council may issue complusory purchase orders on sites where landowners are unwilling to sell. She said: “The office of Sir Eric Pickles has said that such orders should not be used to make way for Gypsy and traveller sites. It seems unfair to landowners who have said they will consider selling their sites. I do feel very passionate about this.”
Councillors voted for the executive committee, made up of senior councillors, to take another look at the matter, which they did on Monday - and they voted to stick to the original proposal to consult on the eight selected sites. The six-week consultation will begin next week, with an allowance for parishes that have no meetings over that period to consult after the consultation has ended.
Council leader Cllr Andrew Mobbs (Con, Kenilworth Park Hill) said: “We must have a robust and sound Local Plan, of which Gypsy and traveller sites are an integral part. The decision on Monday was just about the consultation. Decisions on particular sites will be made at a later date.”
He added that executive members have resolved that compulsory purchase orders will only be used “as a last resort”.
To see a list of the sites to be consulted on, visit the ‘planning’ section of the council’s website: www.warwickdc.gov.uk