Council bosses are to press ahead with controversial proposals to extend Leeds’s Cottingley Springs gipsy and travellers site amid fears they could be creating a ‘ghetto’.
The council’s executive board earlier this month opted for the expansion of Cottingley Springs following a city-wide search for new pitches.
A total of 35 other locations were inspected in detail but rejected for a range of reasons.
Cottingley Springs, the city’s only official gipsy and travellers site, currently has 41 pitches and the council intends to add a further 12.
But government guidance says that sites should not have more than 20 pitches.
Morley Borough Independent (MBI) and Green councillors argued at a meeting of the full council that the expansion decision should be referred back to the board for reconsideration.
Coun Tom Leadley (MBI, Morley North) said: “More sites are needed but there should be no expansion at Cottingley Springs and no replica. It is a ghetto and is hard to manage. Something needs to be done but it must be thought out properly.
“The proposal to enlarge Cottingley Springs is mistaken and should be reconsidered.”
Coun Ann Blackburn (Green, Farnley and Wortley) criticised the proposed expansion as ridiculous and said: “By putting 12 more plots on the site you will have tension there. We need proper consultation with local councillors, people living on the site and residents near it.”
In a question to Coun Peter Gruen, the council’s executive member for housing and neighbourhoods, Coun Bob Gettings (MBI, Morley North) said: “Aren’t we in danger of creating a ghetto area?”
While supporting Cottingley Springs’ expansion, Coun Les Carter (Con Adel and Wharfedale) noted that the 35 rejected sites were described in a council report as “currently” unsuitable.
He said “currently” should be deleted as it suggested they might be suitable at some future date.
Coun Gruen insisted the council was not creating a ghetto.
He said: “We want to improve the housing offer made to Cottingley Springs residents. There will be improvements and new services.
“We will continue to try to balance the needs of the different communities. We believe this is a fair way forward and we will carry out more consultation.”