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Anger greets revelation of camp site bid
Anger and demands for reassurances have greeted the revelation Otley was on a shortlist for a new travellers’ site.
Councillors say they were kept in the dark about the fact land at Ilkley Road had been placed on a ‘final list’ of about 30 potential locations for the facility.
Details of all the possible spots, which have now been rejected in favour of expanding the existing Cottingley Springs site, were presented to Leeds City Council’s executive board yesterday.
But Otley councillors are furious they had not even been consulted.
Councillor Ryk Downes (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) said: “At no time have officers discussed the proposals with us – we believe this was wrong, as we could have pointed out it was unsuitable.”
Fellow Lib Dem ward councillor, Sandy Lay, branded the whole idea “ridiculous”. He added: “The site does not even meet the council’s policy for travellers’ sites – it is not in council ownership, it is adjacent to the river in an area that floods and may cause pollution problems, and, most importantly, it is a long way from the area – mainly south Leeds – which has travellers, and is where they want to be.”
Otley Town Council leader, Coun-cillor John Eveleigh (Lab, Ashfield), said: “I am pleased Ilkley Road has been taken off the sites for consideration.
“This area has been used over the years as an informal site by travellers, and the latest group dispersed leaving a considerable tidying-up operation.
“Ilkley Road is not ideal because of its proximity to one of the town’s major employers, but we do have to accept travellers have been moving up and down the Wharfe Valley for generations.
“The subject of travellers’ sites and their location is always highly contentious. However, if there are further considerations in our area, I would hope the town council would be involved – communities need to be involved in these types of decisions.”
The city council’s report concluded that, since the Ilkley Road site was privately owned, its “acquisition ... would make development expensive and uncertain in terms of timescales.”
Leeds has been awarded £1 million to develop new official travellers pitches.
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