Lord Avebury says 'hysterical' local opposition is preventing councils from providing sites for gypsies

A senior Liberal Democrat peer has called on councils to perform their duty in identifying land for gypsy and traveller sites.

Lord Avebury said that ‘hysterical’ opposition from settled communities has led many councils to drop their site proposals.

But the Department for Communities and Local Government circular 1/2006 obliges local authorities to grant temporary permission in areas where new sites are expected to become available.

He said: “More sites will reduce the inconvenience caused by travellers’ unauthorised developments and encampments.”

Politicans playing ‘political football’ with the Travelling community are to blame, according to Lord Avebury. He pointed to Communities secretary Ruth Kelly’s decision to reject an planning appeal from a large traveller site at Dale Farm in Basildon:

“This is a major setback,” he said. “The Gypsy pitches in the district are full. Basildon will be free to spend huge amounts of public money on evicting these 48 families, but the problems will simply be transferred to the neighbouring authorities.”