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New cash for East Anglian gipsy sites

PUBLISHED: 08:00 22 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:59 06 July 2010

Local authorities were last night urged to get a move on with providing new accommodation for gipsies and travellers after £9m was set aside for more council-run sites in East Anglia.

Local authorities were last night urged to get a move on with providing new accommodation for gipsies and travellers after £9m was set aside for more council-run sites in East Anglia.

Ministers and regional officials published their final plans to create 1,237 additional permanent travellers' pitches in the East of England over the next two years.

The East of England Regional Assembly's (EERA) gipsy and traveller strategy will mean that councils across Norfolk will have to find a total of 156 new permanent pitches and 40 transit sites by 2011.

The majority of the county's district and borough council's have been told to build a minimum of 15 extra pitches, apart from South Norfolk and King's Lynn and West Norfolk, which have been given a quota of 28 and 53 respectively.

Officials from the regional assembly yesterday pledged that £9m was available to councils this year to develop new sites and more would be available in future years.

Communities secretary John Denham has also called on local authorities to make “rapid progress” and to “stop hiding behind excuses for inaction”.

However, a number of district and borough councils have yet to identify areas, which would help ease the number of unauthorised encampments across the region.

John Reynolds, chairman of EERA, said he believed the majority of councils were working up policies and consulting residents over their plans for new gipsy and traveller sites.

“It is right that the problem is sorted as soon as possible and if it takes longer than 2011, so be it. We must make sure the sites are appropriate for the settled community and travellers and the government provides resources for the two groups to live in harmony. There is no need to rush and make the wrong decisions,” he said.

South Norfolk Council has already identified sites in Stanfield Road, Wymondham, and Old Harleston Road, in Earsham, near Bungay, to fulfil its requirement under the regional spatial strategy. And borough council officials in Yarmouth are expanding the Gapton Hall Travellers' Site to help meet their quota.

A spokeswoman for the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk said the authority was looking at legalising some unauthorised encampments and creating some new small sites.

Steve Hems, environmental health manager for North Norfolk District Council, said the authority was building transit sites in Cromer and Fakenham, but did not believe there was a need for permanent sites in the area. Breckland Council is examining potential sites along the A11 corridor.

Councils in Suffolk have been asked to create 156 permanent gipsy and traveller pitches and 20 transit sites. Waveney District Council is currently 11 short of its target of 15 new pitches by 2011.

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