7:00am Tuesday 10th April 2012
Gypsy and traveller sites are being planned in Leeds under a cloak of secrecy, it is being claimed.
Guiseley and Rawdon councillor Graham Latty is accusing the controlling Labour Group on Leeds City Council of refusing to name the potential sites that are being considered around the area.
Coun Latty and fellow Conservatives say there has been no public consultation on the issue and they are calling for open and transparent debate.
The council has stressed that any possible sites will be brought before the Executive Board and that local communities will be consulted before any planning applications are made.
But this week Coun Latty said: “I find it disgraceful that the Labour Group are refusing to name the sites that are being considered as Permanent Gypsy/Traveller Sites around Leeds.
“They started with a list of nearly 300 sites which I am led to believe they have whittled down to around 80 and which, we are led to believe, will be reduced finally to around 12. Only a small clique of Labour councillors know where those sites are to be located.
“As I said in full council last Wednesday, people are frightened of what they do not know, if we can not be told where they will be, then we have to assume that there is one planned for Guiseley & Rawdon and until I am told differently that is what I will believe could happen.
“It is totally ridiculous to have this cloak of secrecy over these site allocations and people must, and no doubt will draw their own conclusions.”
A report to the council’s Executive Board in December said the process of identifying potential sites was at an initial stage, and that possible site options would be presented to the board for consideration when a “robust assessment process” had been completed.
It added: “A proactive and comprehensive consultation exercise will take place with local communities prior to any planning applications being made.”
The council’s executive member for neighbourhoods and housing Coun Peter Gruen has said that many of the sites being assessed would not be suitable.
He has stressed that when sites are found that meet the openly published criteria a further report will be brought to the executive board and there will be full public consultation.
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