West Lindsey District Councillors fear the district may take more than its ‘fair share’ of gypsies, and Market Rasen and Caistor could become “gypsy encampments”
The Prosperous Communities Committee has deferred a decision until July to accept a consultants report on Gypsy and Traveller accommodation to give its members more time to better understand its implications.
The Gypsy and Traveller Assessment has proposed to nearly double gypsy sites in West Lindsey to 92 pitches- more than proposed for neighbouring authorities.
Kelsey councillor Lewis Strange said he was not anti-gypsy but “most of these travellers have just jumped over the border from North Lincolnshire where there are no sites.”
He believed it was “far too easy” for council officers in Gainsborough to ‘solve’ the issue by siting gypsies 25 miles from the town, when they should better negotiate with neighbouring authorities.
“I will fight tooth and nail for fairness. Many of the so-called people who say they are gypsies and travellers are not. They are living in caravans because it’s cheaper, especially if you are single and you work away.”
Councillor Lesley Rollings also saw unfairness, claiming it was easier for travellers to buy land to gain planning permission for sites than for ordinary people to develop land.
“Our way of dealing with it has been just cowardly,” she said.
“We need to make sure these sites are spread so everybody gets their fair share.”
Coun Jessie Milne said council staff who claimed to have spoken to gypsies and travellers had given an “appalling presentation” last year on the issue.
“Gypsies, they insisted, wanted to go where there was a doctor, shops, a regular bus service, etc. Were they aware of how sparsely populated West Lindsey was? If that is the case of where gypsies want to live, then Caistor, Market Rasen, Saxilby and Gainsborough would become gypsy encampments because these are the only places that have the facilities...As usual, we have been dumped on.”
Hemswell councillor Paul Howitt-Cowan, who has worked with consultants on the Assessment, called it “frustrating” councillors sought a deferment, claiming they had not done their job in becoming sufficiently informed.
“The committee needs to reflect more deeply on the report. That’s why they have been given more time,” he said afterwards.