Amnesty plan for illegal gypsy sites

PUBLISHED: 12:19 15 September 2006 | UPDATED: 19:48 01 June 2010

ILLEGAL gypsy sites which can prove they have operated in Fenland without any trouble will be given an amnesty and made official. The recommendation is in a report from Fenland District Council, due to be debated by councillors yesterday (Thursday). The p

ILLEGAL gypsy sites which can prove they have operated in Fenland without any trouble will be given an amnesty and made official.

The recommendation is in a report from Fenland District Council, due to be debated by councillors yesterday (Thursday).

The proposals form part of a 112-page local development framework document which sets out the district's preferred policy options for the next 15 years.

Chris Hodson, the report's author, tells councillors: "Any such site with an existing continuous use for more than 10 years, and no evidence of enforcement on the site, will be treated as having authorised use."

He said the 2006 Traveller Needs Assessment found some needs were being catered for through small unauthorised sites.

This provision was found to be less problematic in Fenland than in other districts because the sites were usually small and family-run. This avoided the transit problems in other districts.

By legitimising sites that have previously been unauthorised, he believes this will go some way to helping the council meet its obligations towards the travelling community.

The council also intends to allocate specific sites - at a later date - for "gypsies and travelling showpeople".

Mr Hodson, Fenland's planning policy manager, says: "Fenland has the second highest count figure in the study area. The assessment identifies a need in Fenland from 2005-10 for 160 permanent pitches and a further 45 to meet potential needs from unauthorised sites.

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