Central Bedfordshire Council to investigate temporary stopping sites for gypsies and travellers Image:AdobeStock_24640829

Sites “need to be where we currently have issues”

Cllr Ian Dalgarno told Central Bedfordshire Council‘s (CBC) executive meeting that gypsy and traveller temporary stopping sites will be investigated as part of a package of responses to gypsy and traveller-related issues.

Temporary stopping sites (TSS) will give the police better tools to move those at unauthorised encampments. If the travellers fail to go to one of these new sites, they will have to leave the Central Bedfordshire area for three months.

Cllr Ian Dalgarno Image: Central Bedfordshire Council

Cllr Dalgarno said that specific sites have not been identified. He added:

“These sites need to be where we currently have issues because that’s where the gypsy and traveller community want to be.

“So we will look at those particular areas and see what land holdings we have as an authority.”

Travellers can only stay for a short time and have to pay rent

A TSS provides a site for Gypsy and Travellers to stay for a short period of time, usually 28 days. They provide toilets, electricity, water, waste collection and are regularly patrolled.

The report presented to the executive said that these TSS are generally located in non-residential areas. They also have good access and egress and are within a reasonable distance of core services.

Those staying at the TSS have to pay rent and a deposit. They also have to sign a License to Occupy that ensures that they move on after the agreed stay period..

Andrew Selous MP encouraged Central Bedfordshire Council to adopt a policy of TTS while debating this issue in the House of Commons. He said that Sandwell Council has seen a significant decrease in unauthorised encampments. Which has led to reduction in the associated clear-up costs and environmental degradation. 

Cllr Dalgarno told the meeting that Sandwell has been a 90% reduction in unauthorised encampments.

Extensive public consultation, or just a planning application?

Cllr Nicols wanted to know how these TTS will be identified, will a matrix be used, and what will be the criteria? Cllr Dalgarno told the councillor that would engage with the public through the planning process.

Cllr Nicols said that he was concerned that this would bypass the normal mechanism for determine traveller sites and there wouldn’t be the usual extensive public consultation.

Cllr Dalgarno responded:

“We haven’t decided on a matrix as yet or a criteria on deciding those sites and I will come back to you in due course once we have made this decision.”

The next steps will involve:

  • Completing Project Implementation Document and Business Case for TSS for approval and prioritisation
  • Identifying suitable land for TSS
  • Complete job descriptions for evaluation and begin recruitment process
  • Subject to sign off initiate the TSS Project

A CBC spokesperson said:

“We are therefore at very early stages, and no sites have been lined up for a TSS. Residents would be able to give their thoughts to any proposed sites through the usual statutory planning process.”