Warning ahead of gypsy site march
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