More Gypsy and Traveller sites needed in north Wales, councillor says

Gypsy site Three of the six north Wales councils run official Gypsy and Traveller sites

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More official sites for Gypsies and travellers are needed in north Wales, a leading councillor says, blaming other authorities for illegal camps.

Bernie Attridge, deputy leader of Flintshire council, said 95% of legal sites are in his county and Wrexham.

He said a lack of facilities elsewhere was leading to problems with illegal settlements and accused the local authorities of "burying their heads".

Conwy, Denbighshire, Gwynedd and Anglesey are looking into the issue.

Mr Attridge said Flintshire council was currently dealing with an illegal settlement at Deeside leisure centre in Queensferry.

Start Quote

We have had problems with other illegal sites and it's because there aren't enough permanent sites across the whole of north Wales”

End Quote Bernie Attridge Flintshire council

It has applied to the county court for a warrant to evict 11 caravans from the rear car park.

But he said they were likely to simply move to another illegal site and that more permanent pitches were needed to house the communities.

"I have had an issue for a long time that it seems to be Flintshire and Wrexham providing most of the legal sites," he said.

"Every local authority is obliged to have sites for Gypsy and Traveller communities.

"But Flintshire and Wrexham have 95% of the official sites - that figure came from a report by Bangor University quite recently.

"We have had problems with other illegal sites and it's because there aren't enough permanent sites across the whole of north Wales.

"It's something all local authorities should take seriously. They need to stop burying their heads in the sand and provide more official sites."

Mr Attridge said Flintshire council's legal site, Riverside in Queensferry, which has a manager on site, was clean, well-run and all the people living there were happy with the facilities.

He said the council is considering expanding it to incorporate more pitches and an area for some Gypsies and Travellers to stay while they travel through the area.

Wrexham has a legal site at Ruthin Road as well as a number of privately run sites in the county borough.

'Extra provisions'

But the rest of north Wales is served by just seven pitches at a council-owned site in Gwynedd.

Conwy council said it had joined with Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd and Anglesey councils, along with the Snowdonia National Park Authority, to assess the accommodation needs of the Gypsy and traveller communities.

The assessment will provide information which each authority will be able to use to make any future plans.

A Gwynedd council spokesperson added: "A recent assessment has outlined the need for extra provisions to be provided across all north Wales authorities."

But Denbighshire council said: "We don't at present have any dedicated sites for travellers and there are no plans to build any at the moment."

Anglesey council added that while it has no official sites at the moment it has a "tolerated site" where travellers are being allowed to stay.

The Welsh government has estimated that there are around 4,000 Gypsies and travellers living in Wales.

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