Rugby council warning over traveller site law changes

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Law changes may result in fewer permanent sites for travellers and gypsies and more unauthorised encampments, a council said.

Sean Lawson, from Rugby Borough Council, said community tensions could increase.

The government said it would remove the obligation on councils to provide permanent sites for traveller groups.

But Rugby Borough Council said it could lead to camps at unsuitable locations and increase community tensions.

However, the government hopes offering cash incentives to councils will boost the number of authorised sites.

The last Labour government had set central targets for local authorities to meet and it gave councils a combined £150m over five years to fund the programme.

'No agricultural work'

But the coalition government said some councils had complained this had forced them to develop sites on open countryside.

It said it would remove targets and offer cash incentives to increase site numbers instead.

But Sean Lawson, head of environmental planning at Rugby Borough Council, believes it could have the opposite effect.

He said travellers used to follow agricultural and seasonal jobs around the country, but this type of work no longer existed.

"Where are they going to stay? On roadsides and in unsuitable locations," he said.

"And it builds a challenge for them and the settled community and the local authorities that have got to deal with it."

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