From the Somerset Guardian
A plan to put nine Travellers pitches on a children's playing field in Camerton has been dropped by Bath and North East Somerset Council – but for other communities the fight continues.
The council is now considering six sites at Radstock, Stanton Wick, Whitchurch, Keynsham, Newbridge and Twerton as part of its Travellers site consultation with a view to creating 22 permanent pitches, 20 transit pitches and a Showman's yard.
At a meeting of the council's cabinet last Wednesday, councillors rejected the plan for a site at Camerton after hearing objections from children and adults who live in the village.
Other sites across the district have proved equally unpopular with 15 residents from the small hamlet of Stanton Wick speaking out against plans to transform the old colliery into a large Travellers site with 15 permanent and five transit pitches.
However, the proposal has not yet been discounted.
Concerns were raised about ground contamination, lack of water supply, unsafe mine shafts, insufficient road access and capacity, no safe walking routes, no access to public transport and the fact there is no doctor or shop within a suitable distance to the site.
Residents also spoke out against the choice of a greenbelt location, arguing that this does not constitute the special circumstances needed to build in the protected landscape.
There were also fears that creating a development of its size would "dwarf" the existing community and worries that part of the area's mining heritage was being handed over to a community for which it has no historical significance.
In Radstock 150 residents have joined together to discuss plans to create two pitches on the former infant school canteen site.
Objectors are against the fact the proposed site is in a conservation area and are also concerned about access to the site.
Andy Saxton, who is a member of Bath Old Road Action Group (BORAG), set up to fight the proposal, said there may be some doubt over the ownership of the proposed site.
Mr Saxton said: "It appears that the site was gifted to the county by Earl Waldegrave in 1903 for the education of the poor under the School Sites Act 1841. He certainly still has some rights over the land even though B&NES claims to own it.
"There is a possibility that the whole site belongs to the Waldegrave Estate, who may have 'rights of reversion' when it stopped being a school. If this is the case, B&NES cannot put a Travellers site on it."
An eight-week public consultation to ask for people's views on the best locations will begin later this month and the council is also asking for people to give suggestions of where they think other sites could be located.
Council leader Paul Crossley encouraged people to contact the authority if they knew of any land that could be used for Travellers.
Two other sites in the Norton Radstock area have also been suggested and are being looked at by council officers to see if they are suitable for inclusion in the consultation.
B&NES has so far failed to provide any permanent sites for Travellers, which in turn means the council is unable to carry out enforcement action to remove people camped up illegally. Over the past the years there have been about 20 unauthorised traveller sites across the district.
Councillor Tim Ball, cabinet member for homes and planning, said he made "no apologies" for bringing the report before the council and said it was the "dereliction" of the previous Conservative administration for not tackling the need to look at creating travellers sites at an earlier opportunity.
He encouraged residents living close to the proposed sites to bring B&NES "factual, legal information" to back up their claims and assured the meeting that site allocation was not a done deal and that this is just the start of the consultation.
The final proposals will be submitted to the Secretary of State in April next year.