Another look at gypsy site plan in Doncaster

Peter Dale, strategic director for development ,Doncaster Council
Peter Dale, strategic director for development ,Doncaster Council
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PLANS to extend gypsy caravan sites at Thorne are back in the melting pot after Doncaster Council was told some of the travellers don’t want to live there.

Councillors are also querying the cost of providing new pitches at £90,000 each and want more investigations to be carried out.

The council’s cabinet met yesterday to discuss finding extra accommodation for gypsy and travellers families because the borough is currently 16 pitches short of the total required.

The gypsy and traveller community in Doncaster is believed to number between 4,000 and 6,000 - depending on the time of year - which is around two per cent of the population.

An application for funding from the Homes and Communities Agency has resulted in a grant of £1.44 million.

The council proposed using it to provide 10 new pitches at the Gibbons Lane site and six at the Lands End site, both in Thorne.

Mayor Peter Davies expressed surprise at the £90,000 cost of each pitch, saying ‘you can build a house for that’ - and regeneration director Peter Dale agreed it sounded high so they would do more analysis of the costs.

The meeting was also told of ‘anecdotal evidence’ that some of the gypsies did not want to move to the Gibbons Lane site.

Mr Dale said: “We are not sure whether this is true or not, it’s only hearsay and we need further consultation.

“Let’s go back and look at both options before we spend money. Let’s make a thorough investigation before we spend money on a site which wouldn’t be used.”

Mr Davies suggested the travellers could refuse the pitches for ‘spurious reasons’ and set up home in a field they have bought, which could be ‘total chaos’.

Coun Ted Kitchen also pointed out some of the pitches in Bentley are actually occupied by non-travellers who can’t obtain council housing. “It beggars belief that ordinary people are renting some gypsy caravans,” he said.

Mr Davies said that was a matter that should also be investigated.

Coun Cynthia Ransome said the authority had been fortunate to be given the Government grant and it should be taken seriously.

The cabinet agreed more consultation should be undertaken with the communities on the proposed options at Thorne, as well as a cost and benefit analysis.