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No Solihull Council bid for traveller camp cash

SOLIHULL Council is not bidding for Government cash to build permanent camps for gypsies and other travellers in the borough.

SOLIHULL Council is not bidding for Government cash to build permanent camps for gypsies and other travellers in the borough.

A council official said it could not make an application for funding until regional development plans covering the next two decades had been worked out.

Almost £100 million of public money will be spent on new camps for traveller families across England over the next three years, with £7.5 million of it earmarked for the West Midlands.

The grant, from the Department of Communities and Local Government, has sparked a political row, with the Conservatives attacking Government targets to provide permanent sites for travellers to use.

They say the targets are unfair and will lead to camps being imposed on residents whether they agree or not.

But ministers argue that providing more permanent sites will reduce the need for councils to spend time and money evicting gypsies from unauthorised camp sites, and ease the tensions such camps can cause in local communities.

In Solihull, there have been complaints by residents about travellers setting up a camp on land in Shadowbrook Lane, Hampton-in-Arden, without planning permission.

The local parish council has lodged an objection with the borough council, calling for any permanent development to be stopped.

A retrospective planning application has been submitted to Solihull Council to change the use of the land from agricultural to a "residential gypsy caravan site". A decision has yet to be made on it.

David Simpson, the council's head of sustainable development, said: "We are currently not in a position to apply for Government funding, as a decision about how many individual pitches are needed in each local authority in the region has yet to be made as part of the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy review.

"Once the figures are known, we will be in a position to consider the need for new sites and suitable site locations in Solihull as part of plans for the future development of the borough."

 

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