Town council backs new traveller site in Shrewsbury

Plans for a new gypsy and traveller transit site on the outskirts of Shrewsbury have been backed by the town council.

Shropshire Council is consulting over the creation of a temporary site near the Ellesmere Road roundabout, in order to reduce the number of unauthorised encampments which cause disruption at park and ride sites and business parks.

Shrewsbury Town Council’s planning committee unanimously agreed to support the proposals at a meeting on Tuesday evening.

The site is to be constructed on land between the A5124 Battlefield Link Road and the A528 Shrewsbury Road, and will be in place for five years during which time it is hoped a permanent site will be identified.

Councillor Julian Dean, who represents Porthill ward on both the town council and Shropshire Council, asked whether the prospect of setting up a permanent site within that time was “realistic”.

He added: “In terms of the consultation, is there a method for consulting the gypsy community themselves about this sort of thing?

“Any site like this is only going to be a success if it is used as is envisaged by the council and that requires some decent consultation with the community themselves.”

Shropshire Council leader Peter Nutting, who represents Copthorne on both councils, said: “Shropshire Council employs a gypsy liaison officer who has been involved in looking for sites and has been involved in the conversations with the gypsy community over this site.

“It is being talked about with the people who matter.

“Wherever gypsy sites are involved there are always problems in terms of local people not wanting them, but they have got to go somewhere.

“I’m not going to make any comments about this particular site.”

Councillor Kevin Pardy, who represents Sundorne on both the town and unitary councils, said: “North Shrewsbury has plenty of visits from travellers who use various areas, whether it be the recreation pitches or the sports village, or farming land across the bypass.

“Most of the time there is not a problem, sometimes there is and of course that’s what people remember.

“Last year I was down on the sports village pitches talking to people about various things going on in the area, and I spoke to two or three young people and it turned out they were travellers.

“The young man said to me, ‘All we want is somewhere we can stay when we are passing through’.

“These people get a terrible reputation yet all they want is an overnight stay without any problems, and to move on in their time.

“They will get agitated if every time they stay somewhere they have the council turn up to move them on.

“I think this is a cracking idea. It is quite a distance from any other dwellings.

“I think we owe it to these people to help them out.”

It will cost £150,000 to construct but could make up to £3,000 a month in pitch fees.

Committee chairman Nat Green, who also sits on both councils representing Quarry and Coton Hill, said the proposed land was an ideal location for a transit site due to its proximity to the road network.

He said the proposed eight pitches was “about optimum” to accommodate an extended family travelling together, adding larger sites are often under-utilised.

Councillor Green said: “From all the information we have been given so far, I think this is a well thought out site and I hope it actually comes to fruition.”

Members of the public can respond to the consultation until December 14.

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