'U-turn' for planned Milton Keynes traveller sites

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Calverton traveller siteImage source, Google
Image caption,
The council will now look to extend the 12-pitch traveller site at Calverton after putting new sites on hold

Plans to spend £5m on new traveller pitches are on hold after a "heated" meeting with local residents.

Milton Keynes Council was hoping to build a new site in Newton Leys and a transit site in Tattenhoe.

The authority said it made the changes after listening to residents, and would look to expand existing sites instead.

Cliff Cadona, a spokesman for the gypsy and traveller community, said the decision was what he "expected" but sites still needed to be found.

Donnalee Andrews, from Newton Leys, said she was pleased by the council's "u-turn" after the "heated" council cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening.

"I am absolutely delighted that common sense and democracy [has prevailed]".

Labour councillor Hannah O'Neill, deputy leader of Milton Keynes Council, said: "This was a starter paper. The idea was to get the ideas out that we need to have 19 more pitches and where we were going to put them."

The cost of the additional pitches was estimated at £4.8m, and £1.4m would have been spent on refurbishing existing sites.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
A transitional traveller site with eight pitches near Bottle Dump roundabout in Tattenhoe was being proposed by Milton Keynes Council

Ms O'Neill said councillors "changed our recommendations" in response to the meeting.

"We are not in the business of sneaking anything through," she said.

She confirmed they would now seek planning permission to extend the town's two current sites, in Willen and Calverton, and any new sites were on hold.

'Residents win'

Mr Cadona said: "It will now mean families coming back looking for somewhere to stay as they haven't got anywhere to go. We are now back to square one.

"Find them a piece of land and direct them to it."

James Lancaster, a Tattenhoe resident, described the decision as "a win for the residents."

Chris Williams, vice-chair of Shenley Brook End and Tattenhoe Parish Council, said: "The cabinet have made more than 14 new recommendations, which boils down to a withdrawal of all the new sites until they have added to the two current permanent sites and then they will go out to consultations."

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