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Travellers site fears rubbished in war of words
2:00pm Friday 10th August 2012 in Local news
A council chief has dismissed speculation a new gypsy and travellers site could be based at Horsforth as ‘unfounded scaremong-ering’.
The leader of the Conser-vative group on Leeds City Council, Councillor Andrew Carter (Calverley and Fars-ley), has been contacted by residents who fear land in Calverley Lane could be under consideration.
Coun Carter, who claims the Labour-run council is also preparing to consider greenbelt land for the facility, is calling on the authority to allay concerns by clarifying which plots are being looked at.
He said: “Let’s be absolut-ely clear about this, the Calverley Lane site in Horsforth is completely unsuitable for a gypsy and travellers site.
“It is located opposite the West Leeds Country Park and in what is supposed to be a picnic area.
“It is also close to what will be a new housing devel-opment on the Clariant site and is adjacent to the ring road – there are few locations in Leeds that would be less suitable. It is baffling this location is even being considered, and I call on the council to reassure residents it will not be used for this purpose.”
The council’s deputy leader and executive board member for neighbour-hoods, housing and regen-eraton, Councillor Peter Gruen (Lab, Cross Gates & Whinmoor), however, was happy to do just that.
He said: “This is just a piece of August mischief-making. There are no plans for a travellers site in this location.
“No doubt we will get a new exclusive for a ‘new’ site every week from the Tories during August. While they chase easy headlines, we will get on with the business of bringing forward relevant proposals.”
The Development Plan Panel considered a draft report this week about the authority’s proposals to find suitable sites – for up to 15 pitches – for gypsies, travellers and travelling show-people.
The report noted the sites “must be located near major roads” and have reasonable access to public transport, schools, healthcare, shops and services.
It also said previously developed (brownfield) sites would be considered first, ahead of greenfield and then greenbelt locations, and that changes to the greenbelt boundary to accommodate a site would “only be considered in exceptional circumstances”.
Coun Carter, meanwhile, is insisting residents have a say whichever location is eventually chosen.
He said: “I certainly hope public opinion will be taken into account, in the form of a referendum or plebiscite, before a decision is taken on what is certain to be a key concern to residents throughout the city.”
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