Council set to spend Â£5 million on TWO new traveller sites in Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes Council is to spend almost Â£5m on building two travellers' sites and upgrading existing permanent pitches in the city.
One of the the new sites would provide 12 pitches near the Newton Leys estate just outside Bletchley and the other is planned for next to the Bottle Dump Roundabout.
The eight-pitch Bottle Dump site, which is between Tattenhoe and Newton Longville, would be a "transit" facility to house illegal encampments of travellers who have been moved on from land elsewhere in MK.
This week the proposals, due to be debated at the full council meeting tomorrow, have caused outrage among residents.
"This is not Nimbyism - this is simply ridiculous. Why are the council spending nearly £5m on sites for travelelrs when we have a homeless crisis here in Milton Keynes.? They should be spending the money on new homes for people who desperately need them." said one Tattenhoe resident.
At Newton Leys, many residents are equally shocked - even though plans for a travellers site were agreed there years ago under section 106 planning provision.
But council officers admit the proposed site has "potential for new homes", which could affect the land value.
On both sites travellers will be expected to pay between £120 and £140 to stay on the sites, which will include drinking water, electricity, toilets, washing facilities and waste disposal.
MK Council Labour leaders say the cost of building and maintaining the sites will be met by this "rent". but residents disagree.
"I doubt if they'll even pay the rent. The council will just be left massively out of pocket," said former Tattenhoe Tory councillor Edith Bald.
She helped fellow residents cope with an invasion of travellers last summer, when there were 203 illegal encampments in Mk. Many of these were in the Tattenhoe area.
"The council says it needs to provide more permanent sites before it can issue injunctions to prevent illegal encampments. Frankly I think that is rubbish," said Edith, who is urging residents to go along to the council meeting at the civic offices tomorrow evening to give their views.
The plans also include expanding existing traveller sites at Willen and Calverton to take a total of 12 extra pitches.
Currently these provide a total of 18 pitches. The new plans could bring the total up to 50.
This, say officers, is in excess of the legal requirement.
They say the 203 illegal encampments last year involved eight groups of traveller families who had been moved on from private land.
"Effectively the same families are repeatedly moving from site to site as enforcement action compels them to move on," states their report.
The aim of the new plan is to create a "hostile environment" to unauthorised encampments.
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