Beds, Herts & Bucks

Central Bedfordshire agrees up to 130 new traveller pitches

Up to 130 new traveller pitches are needed over the next 20 years, Central Bedfordshire Council has decided.

The sustainable communities committee approved the number after considering the county's gypsy and traveller area assessment which evaluates pitch needs.

The number of pitches needed will be reviewed every five years.

In February, councillors will identify suitable sites, out of the 35 identified in the county, which could each get up to 10 places.

Some residents in the proposed areas have shown concern but the council said it has a "statutory obligation" to provide accommodation or sites for gypsies and travellers.

'Going to listen'

Figures for the numbers of pitches used to be imposed on councils by central government, but since the regional government bodies were abandoned by the coalition two years ago, councils have been responsible for their own targets.

Councillor Nigel Young, executive member for sustainable communities, said the council would consider the views of both the settled community and the gypsy and traveller community.

"We are going to give everybody every opportunity to be consulted, we are going to listen but we are going to act within the statutory obligation that we have," he said.

Mr Young said if residents said they did not want the pitches, the council would "put those observations to the Secretary of State".

Central Bedfordshire Council will decide the final list of suitable sites on 28 February and inform the Secretary of State of its decision.

A full consultation will follow with a final decision and the adoption of the sites due in 2014.

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