A NEW temporary site to house travellers and help tackle the problem of unauthorised encampments is set to be developed in Northumberland’s biggest town.
The £311,000 transit site for gypsy, Roma and travelling families is proposed on land at Ennerdale Road on the outskirts of Blyth.
Next week the county council’s Liberal Democrat executive is expected to confirm the choice of the site, which has emerged as the most suitable after a total of 14 were originally identified and examined.
The council will use £311,000 in funding from the Homes and Communities Agency to develop the eight-pitch site, on land bordering Blyth’s industrial estates.
A report to next week’s meeting says providing the official transit site will reduce the cost of managing unauthorised travellers’ encampment, both in terms of staff time and clear-up costs.
A row erupted a year ago after the county council moved an extended travelling family on to part of the Wansbeck Riverside Park in Ashington as a temporary measure. Almost 700 local people signed a petition amid concerns that the 17-acre park could become a permanent transit site for travelling families.
However, the travellers and their six caravans moved off the site after staying there for a few months.
Blyth Town Council has voiced a number of concerns about the proposal to develop Ennerdale Road. It has questioned why a transit site is not being built in the west of the county, and fears that the facility could lead to the loss of current or potential jobs in Blyth. The town council also has concerns that travellers might remain on the site permanently.
Daljit Lally, corporate director of adult services and housing, says in her report to the executive that the site is being proposed in south east Northumberland because that is where the greatest need is, based on existing migratory routes.
She said: “A properly managed site should avoid it being used as a permanent site and causing disruption to local businesses. The planning process will give an opportunity for local concerns to be considered, and the project team can consider further publicity to explain the proposals to local residents and businesses.”
A planning application will be prepared and submitted after the executive chooses the preferred site.