Warn­ing ahead of gypsy site march

North Wales Weekly News - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVID POW­ELL

THE Gypsy Coun­cil has warned that those march­ing against a pro­posed trav­ellers’ site must do so on plan­ning grounds and not on the ba­sis of eth­nic­ity.

A march will take place on Satur­day against plans for a tran­sit site at the for­mer Smithy layby be­tween St George and Bodel­wyd­dan.

Joseph P Jones, chair­man of the Gypsy Coun­cil, ac­knowl­edged res­i­dents’ “demo­cratic right” to protest, but said he hoped the lo­cal coun­cil would is­sue guide­lines as to what peo­ple can ob­ject to.

Mr Jones said: “If they are ques­tion­ing the plan­ning sit­u­a­tion, that’s their demo­cratic right, but if it’s about eth­nic­ity, that’s another ques­tion. I would then call into ques­tion their mo­tives.

“We ob­vi­ously wel­come new sites in ap­pro­pri­ate lo­ca­tions. We used to be put next to rub­bish dumps or un­der mo­tor­way bridges.

“When peo­ple turn up, it will be a place for them to go and no-one will be in a place where no-one wants them.”

Mr Jones also de­fended gyp­sies’ le­gal right places in lo­cal schools.

At a pub­lic meet­ing in St George vil­lage hall this month, a res­i­dent raised con­cerns about pos­si­ble dis­rup­tion caused by gypsy and trav­eller chil­dren in lo­cal pri­mary schools. Mr Jones said: “Kids need to get an ed­u­ca­tion. If you don’t want peo­ple to live out­side so­ci­ety, they have to be part of so­ci­ety and that means go­ing to school.”

An­gela Roberts, of the St George Gypsy/Trav­eller Site Ac­tion Group, de­nied that the group is racist.

She said: “This is noth­ing to do with race. We’re con­cerned about the price of houses, in­surance, the cost of the up­keep of the gypsy site, and that crime could go up.”

She also said the safety of gyp­sies them­selves is at risk and coun­cil guide­lines show sites should not be by a busy road.

The Welsh Gov­ern­ment

to says there is a real need for gypsy and trav­eller sites across Wales.

A spokesman said: “There is no hous­ing mar­ket for gypsy and trav­eller sites, and high poverty rates within th­ese com­mu­ni­ties makes so­cially pro­vided sites cru­cial.

“We re­cently in­tro­duced the Hous­ing (Wales) Act 2014, which re­quires lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to en­sure sites are pro­vided in ar­eas of need.”

All lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in Wales will be re­quired to un­der­take new as­sess­ments dur­ing 2015-16 to iden­tify the need for sites across Wales.

The lat­est North Wales Gypsy and Trav­eller Ac­com­mo­da­tion As­sess­ment showed a need for 62 per­ma­nent pitches and ad­di­tional tran­sit pitches across the re­gion.

The protest march on Satur­day will start at the for­mer Smithy layby at 10am.

The pro­posed Gypsy Tran­sit Park site at the for­mer Smithy layby, near t As­aph Road, St George, Abergele. In­set, the main en­trance to the site

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