Monday, 5 January 2009

Pandering to "Travellers"

Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, has announced the first 43 locations where £21.6 million will be spent building new travellers sites or expanding existing ones, as part of the Labour Government's £100 million plan to house 25,000 gipsies and travellers. Read the Telegraph report here, and read the comments too - not one in favour of the scheme. Which is not really surprising as the general public are well aware of the problems and misery travellers cause, and leave behind them as they gaily dump their rubbish for Councils to clear up and pay for -for which, read local taxpayers. Ms. Blears and her ilk fondly assume that such people will happily pay their way in rent and council tax once a site is 'official'. Some may, of course, but as they are travellers, might it not be suspected that many will up sticks and move on before their liabilities become due?

Leicestershire will not escape this scheme, of course. Back in November, the LeicesterMercury reported on a secret document, left behind at a confidential briefing for Borough Councillors, which was leaked to the paper. Anger erupted after it was discovered that local Councillors and residents had been deliberately kept in the dark concerning:-

6 potential new sites possible in:

Groby
Earl Shilton
Stanton-under-Bardon
Stoke golding
Newbold Verdon
and west of Hinckley

4 existing sites potentially to be extended at:

Cadeby
Markfield
Desford
Bardon

Leader of Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, Councillor David Bill said: "The information has not been made public because the matter's still confidential and is still under consideration.
"I am astonished that county councillors have been shown these leaked documents.
"We are still making our way through and no decisions have been made."

We suggest that there is a very good case for any matters concerning the residents, ie. Council Tax payers, to be made public -unless it is known that what they are doing is wrong, maybe? Also, who on earth might find it 'astonishing' that the elected representatives of these same taxpayers should be made aware of council plans?

Protests against having itinerents forcibly foisted onto these communities there will be a-plenty. Let us hope that there will be no more squeals of "racists!" as there have been in one area who objected to having their village downgraded.

Already, Groby is mobilising, as they have seen the prospective site there transformed recently; mountains of rubbish left by former travellers'10 years ago have now been cleared, hedges have been cut for the first time and gates have been secured to prevent access, leading residents to suspect that work is already underway despite H&B's Cllr. Bill's protestations. Leaflets put up by residents protesting the proposed camp have been torn down by Council officials.
There is a meeting to discuss the Groby site this Thursday, 8th January, at Groby Community College Drama Studio; the Rt. Hon. Stephen Dorrell, MP for Charnwood, will attend (Groby is within the Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, but in Charnwood Parliamentary constituency). Residents are requested to be there and make their concerns known.

In addition to the above, it was reported by the Leicester Mercury (Monday, 5th January), tucked away on page 7, that the Meynell's Gorse site at Braunstone is to receive a further Government grant this year of £35,755, following last year's grant of £21,570.

Nationally, £97,000,000 is available for grants between 2008-2011.
Go here to see a breakdown of what your Council claimed for travellers sites between 2006 and 2008.

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