Gipsy sites plan fury

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A village fighting to prevent the growth of its gipsy population is under threat of yet more pitches and caravans.

Billington has previously accused Central Beds Council of reneging on agreements to limit the number of travellers living in its parish.

The parish council had previously been assured by officers that the village had more than its fair share of travellers’ sites.

It had even excluded the area from its developing Gipsy and Traveller Plan which sets out details to provide 165 new pitches in the district.

But the authority, under pressure from central government, has allowed “variations in conditions” that has resulted in the growth of existing sites in the village.

Parish councillors are angry that travellers have been allowed to successfully argue that they need extra space for their growing families or to be near their livestock.

Now another two new plans have been submitted.

In The Rye, two brothers, Nathan and Nelson Smith and their families from Hertfordshire, want to live on land they own to be near their horses which already graze the site. A mobile home is already illegally parked on the land.

Another application is to put a pitch on land at The Barns, next to the travellers’ site at Toddbury Farm, Slapton Road, to allow a caravan plus a car sales and repair business.

The parish council has strongly opposed both schemes.

Vice-chairman Don Brewin said: “They say that they need extra caravans for their growing families or to be near their horses.

“It appears to be one rule for one group of people and one for another. I wouldn’t be given planning permission for additional housing if I used that argument.

“We understand that the council has to provide more sites but we have more than our fair share. This is expansion by stealth.”

The parish council said of The Barns: “To allow a new site would be seen as a further betrayal of the trust we have sought to build up with CBC.”

Of The Rye it added: “The G&T Local Plan says that sites should not be near sewerage plants or other substations. This proposed site is almost opposite a National Grid substation.

“We feel strongly that this application should be refused otherwise we suspect that it would just be the first of many applications which would have the effect of gradually taking over the whole field for residential purposes.”