No evidence for extra gipsy pitches, says MP

PUBLISHED: 12:06 09 August 2008 | UPDATED: 13:31 06 May 2010

MP Anne Main - questioned Government stance

MP Anne Main - questioned Government stance

THERE is no evidence to support an annual increase in gipsy pitches in the district beyond 2011, according to MP for St Albans Anne Main. She said Government Minister Iain Wright revealed that there was no projection of the growth in gipsy numbers in the

THERE is no evidence to support an annual increase in gipsy pitches in the district beyond 2011, according to MP for St Albans Anne Main.

She said Government Minister Iain Wright revealed that there was no projection of the growth in gipsy numbers in the region by 2050 during Parliamentary Questions last week.

The Government's East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) has recommended that the district should provide an additional 34 gipsy pitches by 2011, on top of the existing 52 authorised pitches.

And it has also said St Albans District Council should increase pitch numbers by an additional three per cent every year until 2021.

If the growth proposal is endorsed, then the district would end up having a total of 114 additional pitches in the next 13 years. Each pitch takes two caravans.

The district council has always maintained that the area, which has more than any other in the county, already has its fair share of pitches.

Mrs Main said: "The minister admits that there is no evidence to support the need for a three per cent year-on-year growth in gipsy and traveller pitches beyond 2011, and yet St Albans will be expected to deliver them."

She added: "I am completely at a loss as to why the Government feels that it is acceptable to impose 34 pitches against local wishes, to pluck a figure for the future increases out of the air without anything to back it up and then to cap it all, to expect local people to go to great efforts to deliver its targets.

"I will continue to challenge the Government about this and have written to Mr Wright to point out that, in my opinion, he is pursuing a totally-unjustified policy that is completely at odds with the wishes of my constituents. These targets should be scrapped."

An Examination in Public (EiP) will be held in October in which a panel of planning inspectors will decide if EERA's recommendation is acceptable.

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