13th April 2009

Transit Site for Gypsies and Travellers

In January 2009, the following press release was issued from the Council:-

An area as been identified situated to the East of the Wessex Way at the end of Riverside Avenue which would be suitable as a temporary location. A temporary Gypsy and Traveller site would help to alleviate the issues of unauthorised encampments experienced by Bournemouth residents during previous summers.

The Council is seeking planning permission for one year for a temporary Gypsy and Traveller transit site. Temporary permission is being sought, as both pieces of land under consideration are already earmarked for development within the next two years.

The Council has a statutory obligation to provide a suitable transit Gypsy and Traveller site by 2011.

Since January 2008, there have been 12 unauthorised encampments in Bournemouth, involving a total of 102 caravans. The encampments have cost more than £24,000 in clean-up, legal and defence work, this figure does not include the cost for Council officer time and policing.

A dedicated transit site would give the police more robust powers to deal with any incidents of illegal trespass elsewhere in the borough, as well as save a considerable amount of taxpayers’ money on avoiding a repeat of the eviction and clear-up costs following unauthorised encampments.

The site at Riverside Avenue has been identified due to its accessibility to main through roads as well as its distance from residential areas.

The temporary transit site would provide basic facilities including toilets, electric, water and security for a limited number of travelling families. The site would be properly managed and supervised on the Council’s behalf and all users will have to book on to the site and pay for the facilities provided.

Transit site: a site with a specific number of pitches providing power and sanitation facilities for short-term stay by travelling communities.

Pitch: A pitch will cater for two or three caravans each, and that will depend on design and layout - just as when one builds a block of flats, one can end up with a combination of 2 and 3 bedroom designs.

Item debated at Forum 12th FEBRUARY 2009 (see minutes) and members of Forum Committee continued to attend all consultation sessions and meetings on this subject

On 25th March 2009 a further press release was issued:-

Bournemouth Gypsy and Traveller transit site will not go ahead this year

Plans for a temporary Gypsy and Traveller transit site at Riverside Avenue in Bournemouth have been delayed and will now not go ahead for this summer.

Due to planning and design issues which will take longer than anticipated the site will not be ready for use this coming summer.

However, work will continue to progress this site as well as continuing to look across the borough for any other alternative sites (private and Council-owned land) that could be suitable for a temporary transit provision with the aim to have a site in place for 2010.

Councillor David Smith, Cabinet Member for Community said: “It is important that we get the temporary transit site right and we take the time needed to ensure that we are providing a quality site that is suitable for the gypsy and traveller community. We also need to address the issues that have been raised from both local residents and businesses following the recent consultation particularly about security in and around the proposed site.”

He added: “We will continue to work in partnership with the Police over the coming months to ensure that we deal with any unauthorised encampments as quickly as possible and we have invested in robust defences following last summer’s encampments to try and prevent a repeat situation.”