Villagers to meet over Hart gypsy plans

Hart Village
Hart Village

DOZENS of people are expected to flock to a meeting tonight about plans to pitch a gypsy site in a Hartlepool village.

Hart Parish Council is holding the public meeting about the controversial decision by Hartlepool Borough Council’s Planning and Finance Committee to allow a travellers site on one of two pieces of land in Hart Village.

The village’s councillors have invited the town’s MP Iain Wright, leader of the council Christopher Akers-Belcher, council chief executive Dave Stubbs and Government inspector Kevin Ward to answer questions from what is expected to be a packed-out meeting.

Chairman of the parish council John Littlewood advised people to get to the meeting – which is set to start at 6.30pm tonight – in good time as people from the village, Bishop Cuthbert and other areas in the town are expected to turn up.

He said: “We’re expecting it to be very, very busy with people not only from the village but from Bishop Cuthbert and elsewhere, who this decision will effect.

“The strength of feeling about this is incredible.”

On Monday night the parish council held a meeting behind closed doors to try and get “on top” of the situation, but as word spread about the sit-down around 20 members of the public turned up.

They were denied access but were told to return to the village hall tonight when they will be given their chance to have their say and air their views in front of decision-makers and people of power.

The Planning and Finance Committee’s decision to allow a travellers camp on either proposed sites at Hart Smallholdings East or Hart Smallholdings West has sparked fury. Not only because a local authority document states both of the Hart sites are ranked among the least sustainable of the initial earmarked sites, but also because it is on the route into Hartlepool, residents say house prices will fall and the land itself is not suitable.

Hart Parish Council has pledged to amount a fighting fund to pay for a legal battle against the decision and even call for a judicial review if necessary.

Housing developer Leebell – a joint venture between Bellway and Persimmon homes – are also protesting against the gypsy site as it would sit opposite the place where the companies hope to build 500 homes to extend the Middle Warren estate.