Traveller site worries voiced at meeting

Borehamwood Times:

Concerns over traffic, crime, council tax and Green Belt land were raised by residents this week at a meeting about the creation of gypsy and traveller sites in Hertsmere.

The borough, along with other authorities in Hertfordshire, commissioned an independent report to identify potential sites in the county.

The Scott Wilson report listed 21 possible sites in Hertsmere, six of which were marked as most prefered, including two in Allum Lane.

One man who lives in Elstree said: "If the Government is going to insist gypsies are sited near any of these people's homes, it should put in legislation to impound or crush their vehicles if they don't behave?

"I don't mind if they move in, live in a caravan and behave themselves. But I think the average person here thinks they won't abide by the rules."

Another resident said: "It is totally sociologically unacceptable to put this on to people in a small village like Elstree. More traffic, more pollution, it is horrendous. We need to keep our Green Belt."

The event at Allum Hall, Elstree, on Wednesday, was chaired by Elstree councillor Morris Bright. Head of planning at Hertsmere Borough Council, Richard Grove, and Councillor Hannah David, portfolio holder for housing and planning, were also on hand to answer questions.

Mr Bright said: "No decisions have been taken whatsoever on this issue. We are having certain rules and certain expectations foisted upon us from above.

"What we are trying to do is to ascertain what people's feelings are."

Mr Grove added: "It is quite clear in Government guidance if we don't act positively and don't try to provide solutions, they could be imposed upon us."

The council estimates Hertsmere needs one or two additional sites. An average site would be about ten pitches on an area of about two to three acres, or 1.5 football pitches. A pitch is allocated to each household.

Hertsmere's MP James Clappison, who spoke at the end of the meeting, raised concerns at the Government's lack of local consultation. He added: "The risk is we might have the sites without meeting any local need. People can come from anywhere to set up on that privately held site."

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