A pitches battle
PUBLISHED: 12:55 01 February 2008 | UPDATED: 11:23 29 April 2010
ABOUT 90 new pitches must be found in the Wisbech area for gipsies and travellers - but the figures have been slammed as back-of-a-fag-packet calculations . Two hundred pitches need to be identified in Cambridgeshire but the biggest increase is in Fenlan
ABOUT 90 new pitches must be found in the Wisbech area for gipsies and travellers - but the figures have been slammed as "back-of-a-fag-packet calculations".
Two hundred pitches need to be identified in Cambridgeshire but the biggest increase is in Fenland.
In Cambridge itself, 15 pitches will be needed, while East Cambridgeshire will be asked to provide an extra 35, South Cambridgeshire 59, and Huntingdonshire 20.
The plans were approved by the East of England Regional Assembly but will be subject to a 12-week consultation before being finalised.
It is a response to the "pressing shortage" of space for travellers in the region, which contributes to the problem of illegal development. A pitch is a plot of land occupied by a family, and may include more than one caravan - the average is 1.7. It is up to local councils to decide where the new sites will be.
It means that areas of high demand such as Fenland can have slightly fewer pitches than they might otherwise be the case.
Some councils are furious at the plans, and a motion to throw them out altogether and another by the Liberal Democrat group to allow councils to escape the requirements if they do not have land available were both discussed before being defeated.
Liberal Democrat Dorothy Thornhill, a Watford councillor, said the plans were "numbers on the back of a fag packet".
Kathy Pollard, a Liberal Democrat from Suffolk, pleading for exceptions for councils which could not provide the sites, said: "We are asking for a bit of wriggle room here."
But Councillor Keith Walters, Conservative leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "It is the sort of wriggle room which I could drive a coach and horses through.