THE ISSUE of where in the district to house gypsy and travellers continues to rumble on.
As part of the Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan, which Stratford District Council is hoping to adopt next year, the authority needs to find 45 pitches before 2016 and a total of 71 pitches by 2031.
Although the authority’s public call for sites last year was unsuccessful, it maintained 17 permanent pitches had already been given planning permission – leaving a shortfall of just 28.
And depending on permissions being given the green light, it has also lined up a further seven to 11 sites, which brings the total to somewhere between 24 and 28 sites.
But the authority’s hopes of adding to this were dashed as permission for a potential gypsy site at Rainbows Nursery in Welford was refused.
Despite officers recommending the application be given the green light, councillors rejected the plans, which they felt would be an eyesore.
And at a recent meeting it was also revealed a site in Bidford offering ten potential pitches – almost a quarter of the total – had been withdrawn by landowners Warwickshire County Council.
A county council spokeswoman said: “The site at Bidford was initially offered for consideration two years ago but Stratford District Council stated they would not take this forward and the site was therefore withdrawn.”
The issue of finding sites has long-since dominated the district council’s agenda.
A war of words broke out in December when leader of the opposition, Lib Dem councillor Richard Cheney accused council leader Chris Saint of having sight of a confidential list of gypsy sites – a claim Coun Saint strongly refuted.
The council is looking to consult on the potential sites in the coming months but if the total number of pitches is not achieved, it could be forced to consider buying land.
* CONCERNS have also been raised proposed changes to parking could discourage people from visiting the town.
Stratford District Council is looking to replace the current ‘pay on exit’ system at its Bridgefoot car park with a new ‘pay and display’ system.
The council argues the improvements, which are planned for spring 2015 and include paying by phone and card, will not only help reduce the number of technical issues but also give people more flexibility and choice.
But the move was condemned by Lib Dem councillor Peter Moorse, who claimed it was unfair to force people to decide how long they wanted to stay.
The council is set to further consider the matter.