Hartlepool gypsy site council blunder

Karen Welford and local residents on the area of land in Wiltshire Way that the council could not use
Karen Welford and local residents on the area of land in Wiltshire Way that the council could not use

A POTENTIAL gypsy and traveller site in Hartlepool has been scaled down by council planners after residents discovered the local authority did not own all the land.

Land off Wiltshire Way, at Throston, is one of 13 potential sites that Hartlepool Borough Council is looking as part of an ongoing consultation process.

But the plot, which was being looked at for six pitches, has had to be redrawn to just two after resident Karen Welford and her partner, Grant Gordon, found out the council did not own all of the land.

Miss Welford, 44, an exams officer at High Tunstall College of Science, said: “The council were unaware at first.

“We made further inquiries and got documents from the Land Registry which showed they didn’t own all of the land.

“Surely the council need to look at other sites. Do they own all the land for them?

“What else do they not know?”

Council planners told residents they had redrawn the plan at a recent public consultation meeting.

Miss Welford, a mum of two teenage sons, added: “There was quite a lot of shock and anger that they could make that mistake.

“People are really angry it is being proposed in a residential area but these are government guidelines.

“Throston is a community within a community. People were quite passionate about that at the meeting about that.”

Miss Welford said 600 objection letters from Throston residents have been sent to the council. A Facebook page has also been set up for people to comment called Traveller Sites at Wiltshire Way.

The main objections are that a traveller site could affect the value of their homes, the fear of crime and pressure on school places.

A spokesman for the council said: “We have had to re-define one of the potential gypsy and traveller sites after it was brought to our attention during the consultation process that not all of the land was in council ownership.

“We apologise for the mistake and the proposed site located at Wiltshire Way has been reduced, and it is our view that it could only accommodate two pitches now rather than six previously.

“There are further consultation meetings planned and the public are being encouraged to attend and air their views.”

Another consultation meeting will be held at Throston Primary School, Flint Walk, on Tuesday, at 4pm-7pm.