Travellers on Stychbrook Park
Travellers on Stychbrook Park

Council chiefs have admitted that the lack of legal sites for gypsies and travellers across Lichfield and Burntwood will be a “vulnerability” of the new Local Plan.

Lichfield District Council’s cabinet has backed proposals to formally submit the document to the Planning Inspector.

As well as housebuilding across the district over the next 20 years, the Local Plan also identifies a need for gypsy and traveller provision as a “key issue” facing the district.

Despite a 2016 study by the local authority finding that there were insufficient sites, no further locations have been identified since.

Cllr Iain Eadie, deputy leader of Lichfield District Council, said previous attempts to find suitable places for gypsies and travellers had proven to be fruitless.

“We have made a call for sites to be able to create additional gypsy and traveller locations – that proved unsuccessful as no sites were offered up.

“We will continue to search for sites to serve those communities.

“We have also asked our neighbouring authorities and they find themselves in a broadly similar situation.

“It was a vulnerability [in the previous Local Plan] and it will be a vulnerability here again.”

Cllr Iain Eadie, Lichfield District Council

The lack of provision has been drawn into focus across Lichfield and Burntwood after a number of illegal encampments have seen travellers move onto land at locations such as Burntwood Rugby Club, Stychbrook Park and Saddlers Wood over the past year.

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  1. So we settle in for more years of racist hatred and community upset because LDC can’t get its act together. What happened to the review of traveller provision promised 2 years ago? LDC leadership must take responsibility for enabling racist behaviour. It’s impossible to believe that the council can’t find a suitable site somewhere in the district. Instead we’ll have police, councillors, the public and travellers themselves all at each other’s throats for the indefinite future. Thank you, LDC

  2. The commonsense option is to provide a legal site. This gives everyone the chance to get on with their lives without the inevitable (and expensive) confrontations that result from there being no legal site. If other parts of the world manage to accommodate traditional, nomadic lifestyles (e.g. Sami reindeer herders in Scandinavia), so can we.

  3. Those in support of providing somewhere for those generally in disregard for many laws of the land should ask themselves where these nomads go in the winter. Perhaps they can stay wherever that is.

    Many sites for travellers end up with static homes on them.

    I recently witnessed one of these poor nomads illegally camping in Sutton Park driving off in his £70,000 Mercedes that he parked separately to his caravan in a side street.

  4. @Bob: Of course, we could just carry on with the current system where they park up in totally unsuitable places, and time and money are wasted on moving them on, until the next time, when another illegal camp springs up, and they have to be evicted again.

  5. @Clare Lets hope the new law to make more of their actions criminal offences instead of civil ones.

    If boy racers were aggrieved it was illegal to drive at any speed they liked on the road, should the local council provide a race track for them in every district? There are many more examples like this.

    The country is governed by laws and is up to those that are in this country to abide by the laws, and not that local authorities should provide facilities for those that deliberately choose not to follow some of those laws.

    The local council already provides accommodation, if this is not accepted then it is not the local councils issue.

  6. @Bob: re”those that deliberately choose not to follow some of those laws.” Give people the choice and they camp on authorised sites (you can find the statistics for use of authorised sites on government websites); they’re not given that choice round here, though. The local council do not already provide accommodation for travellers, hence the article. If you think you know different, do inform the council.

    It seems you would prefer to offer travellers no legal sites and then criminalise them for camping elsewhere. And then what? Lengthy legal battles? Put them in prison? Take their kids into care? And how much would that cost society? A whole lot more than providing a field and whatever basic services authorised sites offer. Authorised sites are a fair, pragmatic and more cost effective solution than criminalising a community for living the way they have lived for centuries.

  7. I understand there may be land for a site on the A51 coming up, not far from the A515 with a pub/restaurant just down the way.

    Authorised site? Must be a contender, then you can always build more houses.

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