‘Waste of our cash’ – anger at £10k consultation exercise for gypsy site in Hartlepool

The previously preferred site for the gypsy camp at Hart Smallholdings West.
The previously preferred site for the gypsy camp at Hart Smallholdings West.

MAIL readers have taken to the internet to express their views over Hartlepool Borough Council spending £10,000 to decide whether the town needs a gypsy site.

Dozens of people have commented on the controversial consultation exercise on the Mail’s website and Facebook page.

We reported earlier this week how Hartlepool Borough Council, which threw out a planning blueprint because of the furore over a potential permanent gypsy and traveller site at Hart, is now spending £10,000 on consultants to assess the need for one in the first place.

Some angry councillors have slammed the new Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment as a “waste of cash” after similar work had been carried out on the previous Local Plan before it was axed in October.

Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher said he believes it is a “sound investment” if it proves there is no need or demand for a permanent traveller base.

Hartlepool Mail website user pm1 said: “It doesn’t really matter whether the report costs £10, £10,000, £1,000,000 or even nothing at all.

“It is already crystal clear that it will be a pointless report. The consultants can fashion the report out of cast iron, but if it does not comply with the inspector’s assessment criteria, then it will carry no consideration.”

Reader Enufisenuf commented: “Funny how wasting £1.5m and spending another £700,000 is so worth it to address the gypsy fiasco yet supporting a call to have it discussed properly by the whole council – which would have cost nowt – wasn’t.”

Skint2011 posted: “Hartlepool Council have a long history of been a bit well flamboyant when it comes to using public funds, its time their purse strings were cut.”

Redfox stated: “These so called councillors are on massive salaries, to manage things and make decisions which is obvious they are not capable of doing unless its to spend and waste the people of Hartlepool’s good money.”

WalkensKrisps described the new assessment as: “Utter waste, the council should have stuck with the original plan and got it through when it came up originally.”

Davidriddle said: “Here’s a ‘CRAZY’ idea from me, send an officer to visit the 5 [gypsy] families and.. ask them if they want a site. Madness. Again.”

Rag Bone wrote: “Couple of things need to be pointed out. This directive was not made up by Iain Wright, but by the European Union over on the continent, hence why the present communities secretary Eric Pickles is also powerless to act to stop travellers sites going ahead nationwide. This same battle is also going on in Stockton. So it is all very well Labour opponents being outraged about this, that is what oppositions do, but at least have the decency to state all the facts and not hoodwink the public.”