Milton Keynes Council has aborted a plan to spend millions of pounds building TWO more sites for travellers in the city.
One of the new sites would have provided 12 pitches near the Newton Leys estate just outside Bletchley and the other was planned for next to the Bottle Dump Roundabout.
The eight-pitch BottleDump 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, stated a council report.
READ ORIGINAL STORY: Council set to spend £5 million on TWO new traveller sites in Milton Keynes
But on Tuesday the proposals were scrapped at the full council meeting after an outcry from residents. Instead the council will spend money on extending and upgrading the existing travellers’ sites at Willen and Calverton.
“This is not Nimbyism – this is simply ridiculous. Why would the council spending nearly £5m on new sites for traveller 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 were equally shocked - even though plans for a travellers site were agreed there years ago under section 106 planning provision.
On both the new sites travellers would have been expected to pay between £120 and £140 a week in rent, which would include drinking water, electricity, toilets, washing facilities and waste disposal.
MK Council Labour leaders said the cost of building and maintaining the sites will be met by this “rent”, but residents disagree.
“I doubt if they’d even pay the rent. The council would 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 unauthorised camps 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 the council report.
On Tuesday councillors agreed to build a total of 19 new pitches on the Willen and Calverton sites.
After these are completed, and if more pitches are needed, the council will hold a consultation with Newton Leys residents about building a site there.
Council leader Pete Marland said: “It is a legal requirement that we provide enough permanent pitches for travellers.”
He added: “This is always an emotive matter and I think people have a view that the traveller and gipsy community can be difficult.
“Part of the consultation will aim to bring the communities together to address some of these concerns.”