“We haven’t already taken a decision on temporary site for travellers in Milton Keynes” - deputy leader

A leading councillor says no final decision has been made on creating a temporary site for travellers while their homes elsewhere in Milton Keynes are refurbished.

Thursday, 28th November 2019, 5:57 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th November 2019, 5:58 pm

Milton Keynes Council’s deputy leader fielded repeated questions from councillors and members of the public at a meeting yesterday (Wednesday) over the possibility of using a land near Bottledump roundabout while traveller sites at Willen and Calverton are refurbished.

Tattenhoe resident Nicholas Cadman accused the council of letting residents down over housebuilding plans, and now the possibility of placing travellers at Bottledump roundabout.

The area has seen a number of illegal traveller sites during the last year and he fears that any temporary site could become permanent.

The traveller site at Calverton

“We deserve better treatment, why are you keeping residents in the dark?” he asked deputy leader Cllr Hannah O’Neill at the full council. He wanted reassurance that any plans would be temporary and not permanent.

Cllr O’Neill (Lab, Woughton and Fishermead) said housing plans in the Kingsmead area were the responsibility of Aylesbury Vale District Council.

“We are not riding roughshod over public concerns,” she said. “We brought the issue up at an early stage because we want to give people a heads up.”

What is being talked about at the moment is using pitches at Bottledump while families were decanted from the site at Willen. Cllr O’Neill said if that happened it would “absolutely be temporary.”

An earlier meeting had been told that the council is under a legal obligation to find 19 more pitches for travellers in the city by 2023, and a pot of government cash is going begging which they could use to refurbish the two current sites at Willen and Calverton.

Cllr James Lancaster (Cons, Tattenhoe) said he would not agree to a temporary or a permanent site. “It would have to have planning permission and amenities provided. How long would it be temporary?” he said.

But Cllr O’Neill said the move was “probably highly unlikely” but if it did happen it would be “just for decanting”. She added that the council was committed to being transparent and open and no decisions would be made without consultations.

Cllr Allan Rankine (Cons, Bletchley Park) said Tatternhoe had seen problems with illegal encampments and the issue was sensitive in the area. He said there was “plenty of space” at the Calverton site and no need for a temporary one.

Cllr O’Neill said the council will be looking at expanding and revamping the current sites and would be transparent about the process.

Earlier this year the council rejected £5m plans for two completely new sites in the city following a public outcry. One of the two proposed sites was eight pitches at Bottledump, which sits between Tattenhoe and Newton Longville.