PLANNING officials are not listening to residents over a revamp of South Tyneside’s first permanent gypsy site, claims an angry councillor.
Planners are recommending giving the go-ahead to proposals to build 11 four-metre-high brick buildings to provide kitchen and bathroom facilities and storage space at the travellers’ site in West Pastures, off Newcastle Road in West Boldon.
The 7,600 sq m area is currently classed as a temporary site.
If, as recommended, South Tyneside Council’s planning committee gives the application the go-ahead, it will become permanent.
Coun Steve Harrison, the UK Independence Party’s representative for the council’s Fellgate and Hedworth ward, in which the site lies, believes the views of local people aren’t being taken into account.
He said: “Once again, it’s a case of the council going against the wishes of the people. It’s ridiculous. They’re not listening.
“I would like to see any of those giving the application the go-ahead to welcome it in their backyards.”
On Facebook and the Gazette’s website, the proposals have met with with a mixed reaction.
Sharon Riddell said: “It’s another case of the councillors not listening to what locals want.”
Vicky Spence said: “Surely, if it’s a permanent dwelling, they will have to pay the appropriate council tax, water rates and so on?”
Rob Paris said: “The council is weak-willed.”
South Tyneside Unity, an anti-racism collective, said: “There are too many negative people here.
“These people want a place to live. How about fighting the people that make it hard for them? Having a negative stereotype of people will make the problem worse.”
Billy Conner added: “Everyone has to live somewhere.”
After a public inquiry, temporary planning permission for the site was granted in March 2008 for three years, but it expired in 2011.
It has since been identified as a suitable site for gypsies or other travellers in the council’s development plan.
A council spokesman said: “All councils have a legal requirement to provide for the local accommodation needs of the gypsy and traveller community.
“The various issues and objections in connection with the application will be considered at the meeting.”
The committee will meet at South Shields Town Hall on Monday, December 9, from 10am to consider the application.