Wakefield: Site must be found for travellers

Have your say

A new home for gypsies and travellers in Wakefield must be found to avoid illegal camps being set up on land around the district.

That is the verdict of a report looking into the future needs of the travelling community and how many will want to live in the Wakefield district over the next decade.

The report says a site capable of taking up to 12 pitches needs to be found if Wakefield Council is to meet its obligations under national policy.

A report to the council’s cabinet, which meets next Tuesday, says: “As the council does not currently have sufficient sites to meet the accommodation needs, planning applications are being submitted to the council on land usually located in the green belt or allocated for other purposes in the development plan.

It adds: “Enforcement action on unauthorised sites is also more difficult to pursue given the evidence on the need for accommodation.

“Therefore, the current position of not having sufficient sites agreed for new gypsy and traveller accommodation is increasing the risk that sites are created in localities the council does not feel are suitable.”

The report comes in response to a survey carried out with members of the travelling community living locally.

The survey found most travellers would prefer to live on a council-managed site in Wakefield, Normanton or Castleford which is made up of smaller, family sites with larger pitches.

They would not want to live under pylons or on former tips, the survey found.

The report adds: “It is envisaged that to meet the majority of both the short term and longer term need, one site capable of taking up to 12 pitches should be identified.

However, this will be dependent on site availability and sustainability.”

Wakefield is already home to one of the largest travellers sites in the north, which is located at Heath Common.

The site opened in 1992 and includes 38 pitches.

A road traffic sign is in front of the Union Jack and the European Union flag hanging outside Europe House in Smith Square, London.  Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Aisha Iqbal: Brexit is the mother of all messy divorces - and Leeds is like a poor child stuck in the middle