Gypsies and Travelers
At South East Northumberland Area Committee on the 12 September 2012 the consultation report for Gypsy and Traveler transit sites was discussed.
The Government guidelines for the development of sites takes areas travelers use regularly and areas they travel through as the prime elements for the scoring mechanism.
In South East Northumberland, Gypsies and Travelers congregate on the Riverside Industrial Estate during the summer months. In recent years traveling families have also used green space off Cowpen Road, Kitty Brewster, Blyth in the Taylor Street area and set up illegal encampments causing many problems for local residents. Two sites have been identified through the Governments process, Coniston Road and the former Sustrans site at Ennerdale Road. One must be chosen to serve the South East corner of the County.
Local Ward Councillor Grant Davey said, "although Government guidelines has steered the proposed south east secure transit site to Kitty Brewster I believe its better for both the traveling folk and local residents to have a full facility site available rather than people being on illegal encampments all over Cowpen and Kitty Brewster. The County Council needs to ensure they build up the confidence of local people that this maximum 21day stay transit site will be both well managed and that travelers will be encouraged not to illegally camp in South East Northumberland once their stopover period expires."
Interim Housing Manager Paul Leo informed the Area Committee that without proper encampments with full facilities, Courts will not implement orders against illegal encampments. He said the Government will fund another site to assist traveling through Northumberland.
Councillors thought that as the main direction of travel for known families is towards Cumbria for both the Appleby Fair and their winter quarters that a mid Northumberland location near Hexham would be the most suitable to ensure Northumberland fulfills its obligation to look after traveling folk.