Travellers site responses sent
By Bob Horrocks, secretary of the NMDGBS
Last January, the East of England Regional Assembly sent a report to the Government recommending that the region's existing 1,836 authorised pitches for gypsies and travellers be increased by at least another 1,187 pitches by 2011.
Of these 1,187 additional pitches, 17 would be in Welwyn Hatfield, and consultants employed by Welwyn Hatfield Council reported that they could recommend just one site in the whole borough, at Bulls Lane, Bell Bar.
The Government then carried out a public consultation on these proposals with a closing date of 16 May 2008.
North Mymms District Green Belt Society (NMDGBS) prepared a standard response to the consultation document which was attached to a newsletter circulated to every household in Brookmans Park, Welham Green and parts of Bullens Green and Little Heath.
The society received completed response forms from 665 residents.
The standard response form queried the timescale for producing this number of pitches, the calculation which seemed to produce far more pitches than were necessary, and the distribution with a minimum of 15 pitches in each local authority area.
It noted that St Albans and Welwyn Hatfield already had the largest number of authorised pitches in the county, with most of the non-urban land being classified as green belt. It also claimed that the Bulls Lane site was unsuitable and failed to fully meet the criteria for pitches.
The Government will be holding an 'Inquiry in Public' later this year when planning inspectors will consider the representations already made and hear various parties arguments. The final decision is due to be made sometime in 2009.
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16 May 2008
Editor's Note: 3,600 prepared responses were sent out by the NMDGBS. The NMDGBS says it didn't take a note of how many of the returns were photocopies of the original forms, however Bob Horrocks did say that a fair number of the returned documents were from several members of the same family.
Bulls Lane site opposed - 27 April 2008
Travellers site public meeting - 3 January 2008
Travellers site proposal considered - 30 September 2007
Travellers site identified - 18 September 2007