Agenda item

Gypsy and Travellers Needs Assessment

To conduct pre-decision scrutiny on proposals prior to Cabinet decision



Cabinet Member Sara Burch and Ian Bakewell introduced the report, highlighting the process that had been followed to date, including the timeline of reports that had been tabled to the scrutiny committee, in addition to the informal scrutiny workshops that all elected Members had been invited to. The Cabinet Member answered the Members’ questionswith Mark Hand and Craig O’Connor. 


The local Ward Members Councillors Richard John, Frances Taylor, Fay Bromfield on behalf of Jane Lucas, and John Crook spoke at length to share their concerns about the suitability of the sites identified in their wards and Councillor Richard John proposed that the Committee recommended Option 3, rejecting all of the sites under discussion.


Key points raised by the Committee Members


·     Committee Members questioned whether as a Council, we are truly considering the needs of Gypsies and Travellers and whether the Council is paying due respect to their feedback, given the travelling community has stated that none of the sites would meet their requirements.


·     The Scrutiny Committee expressed grave concerns around the accuracy of the RAG process and the process taken to remove sites from the list, leaving 4 sites that the Committee felt were wholly unsuitable for a wide range of reasons outlined by the public and the ward Members. 


·     Members questioned whether the Council is evidentially applying the Guidance on Gypsy and Traveller Sites, which states that good quality accessible roads for heavy duty traffic are required ~ this was just one example of where the Scrutiny Committee felt the guidance hadn’t been applied.


·     The Committee felt the process has been rushed, with Members not having sufficient notice to visit the sites and fully appraise themselves of their suitability. Members felt that the decisions are too important for Gypsy and Travellers and for existing communities to be rushed to meet the timescales of the Replacement Local Development Plan.


·     Members urged the Cabinet Member and Officers to negotiate with National Resources Wales to resolve issues on existing sites, where Gypsies and Travellers are settled and have strong ties to the local area.


Formal Outcome of the Scrutiny:


The Chair thanked everyone for their patience throughout the process and the public for their attendance and valuable contribution. He also thanked Cabinet Members and Officers for their input and concluded:


·       That Members rejected the four recommendations presented to the Scrutiny Committee.


·       That Members recommend that a call is put to landowners to come forward with parcels of land (in line with the recommendation 2.3 in the Cabinet report for 26th July 2023) and that the selection process begin again.


·       That Members recommend that existing Gypsy and Traveller Communities should be supported as far as possible, which could also assist the Council in meeting identified need.


·       A formal summary would be presented by the Chair to the Cabinet to reflect the views of the Committee, together with some additional comments for the Executive to consider in their future decision-making.


Supporting documents: