Trav­ellers must pay rates and util­ity bills at new of­fi­cial sites

Bangor Mail - - NEWS -

GYPSIES and Trav­ellers who take up pitches at new coun­cil­run sites will be forced to pay rates and util­ity bills, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cers.

An­gle­sey Coun­cil’s hous­ing de­part­ment say that plans for a per­ma­nent four pitch site for ‘new age Trav­ellers’ at Pen­hes­gyn near Me­nai Bridge, should be sub­mit­ted for plan­ning ap­proval within the next month.

Sim­i­lar plans are also in the pipe­line for a tem­po­rary four pitch stop­ping site for Ro­many Gypsies near the A55 at Star.

But de­spite op­po­si­tion from many mem­bers of the pub­lic, who’ve ques­tioned the suit­abil­ity of both sites, of­fi­cers say that over 40 lo­ca­tions across the is­land were ex­plored be­fore de­cid­ing on the two.

Lo­cals near Pen­hes­gyn say the site’s lo­ca­tion near a re­cy­cling cen­tre means it’s not suit­able, with sim­i­lar con­cerns in Star due to its prox­im­ity to both the A5 and A55.

Ac­cord­ing to the author­ity, both sites have al­ready been sub­ject of de­tailed de­sign con­sid­er­a­tions – in­clud­ing air qual­ity, noise, ecol­ogy and flood risk as­sess­ments.

“Gain­ing nec­es­sary plan­ning per­mis­sion is a pre­req­ui­site be­fore we can even ap­ply for Welsh Gov­ern­ment fund­ing,” said Tech­ni­cal Ser­vices Man­ager at the Hous­ing De­part­ment, Dafydd Row­lands.

“We ex­pect the plans to be sub­mit­ted for plan­ning ap­proval quite soon, which we’re hope­ful of se­cur­ing, but un­der­stand it will also be an op­por­tu­nity for those who op­pose the plans to put their views across as well.

“Be­cause it’s com­mer­cially sen­si­tive, at this stage we can’t re­veal the expected cost of both de­vel­op­ments, but we will be ap­ply­ing for Welsh Gov­ern­ment fund­ing to­wards it.”

The in­sis­tence that the is­land must have des­ig­nated per­ma­nent and tem­po­rary stop­ping places is a di­rec­tive aris­ing from the Hous­ing (Wales) Act 2014, which means coun­cils must meet Trav­ellers’ ac­com­mo­da­tion needs in their Lo­cal De­vel­op­ment Plans, drawn up jointly by both Gwynedd and An­gle­sey coun­cils.

Gwynedd al­ready has its own des­ig­nated site at Llandy­gai near Ban­gor, although it’s expected that An­gle­sey will also have to for­malise plans for an ad­di­tional stop­ping site in the Holy­head area over the com­ing years.

Mr Row­lands added: “Once we have des­ig­nated sites in place, it will be much eas­ier, by law, to move on those who set up unau­tho­rised en­camp­ments.

“We’d also like to con­firm that those us­ing the ser­vices will also be expected to pay rates, with a pre-pay sys­tem for any util­i­ties such as elec­tric­ity and wa­ter, that they use.”

“The dis­cus­sions we’ve had with those liv­ing at the ‘tol­er­ated’ en­camp­ment on the A5025 near Pen­traeth, have so far been pro­duc­tive.

“The same is the case with the Trav­ellers who, on their way to and from Ireland, cur­rently set up camp at Mona.”

“They have been very wel­com­ing of pro­pos­als to set up an au­tho­rised camp, and some­where they know they won’t be put un­der pres­sure to va­cate.”

Main, An­gle­sey Coun­cil’s plans for a tem­po­rary stop­ping area for gypsies and trav­ellers at Star near Gaer­wen; right and inset, the Pen­hes­gyn site and pro­posed lay­out

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