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Gypsy and Traveller Site Local Plan Town Council representation to CBC 30.1.14

Representation to Council on G & T local plan 30th January 2014 Over the last two weeks I have made representations to both the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Executive regarding Potton Town Council’s objection to the revised site allocations. At neither meeting were these representations discussed or scrutinised by members. It is Potton Town Council’s assertion that the process is unsound. At the OSC meeting it was stated members may wish to consider removing site 58 from the shortlist in favour of expanding the existing Potton traveller site outside of the local plan. The portfolio holder announced without prior notice to the public that this could generate up to 13 additional pitches on this site which has 14 already. Potton Town Council remains totally opposed to expansion of the Potton site due to its adverse history in the 1990s when the site was twice the size it is today. Again at the Executive meeting there was no discussion of the issues by members. Further, Cllr. Young announced without prior notice to the public that the revised location of site 55 to site 26 would carry with it a 50% increase in the number of pitches from 10 to 15 as would site 16 in Barton. If this plan is passed the areas in and around Potton and Barton will gain 43 additional pitches – that is 65% of the allocation – and this figure excludes the existing pitches In Potton and sites for travelling showpeople. Potton could end up with 42 pitches within a three mile radius. It is hardly surprising that the general public think this is disproportionate. In the initial plan last year nine shortlisted sites were identified. How they were determined was not stated by the Chairman of the OSC. During the lunch break of the OSC meeting the list was reduced to seven following strong representations by two ward members one of whom was a member of the scrutiny committee, the other being an ex leader of the Council. The reason given for their removal by the Chairman was that they could find sufficient plots without them. I am not disposed to cynicism but there appears to be a number of coincidences appearing throughout this process. The rationale for moving site 55 to site 26 was in the words of Cllr. Young after listening to the comments of a number of respondents. This number was apparently one – Biggleswade Town Council who just happens to have a member who is an ex leader of a predecessor authority and members of this one. Is this just another coincidence? The two areas with the highest proportion of proposed sites by far just happen to have independent ward councillors on this authority. Is this yet another coincidence? I doubt that my comments will have any more impact on this evening’s outcome than it has in the previous two meetings so it will be interesting to see what the Inspector makes of these statistics and the soundness of the process. Alan Leggatt Chairman Potton Town Council

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