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Secret Gypsy transit sites


Sha

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From the News page. Nov 3rd  

 

WARRINGTON’S rebel councillor Kevin Bennett claims he is being denied access to a list of potential gypsy transit sites across the borough because he refuses to sign an agreement to keep it secret.
He says some Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors have been given the list – but he has been refused it unless he signs the agreement not to discuss its contents with anyone.
He said: “”I find this outrageous. The people of Warrington are entitled to know what is being discussed at the Town Hall.
“I will not sign any pledge to keep secrets from the people of Warrington. I am currently taking legal advice on whether officers have broken the law in trying to persuade me to do so. Even if I am a lone
voice I will keep fighting for the truth to come out. I will not keep secrets from people in Fairfield and Howley.”
Cllr Bennett, a former Labour councillor who quit the party and joined TUSC, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, said the current Labour leadership had promised an “open and transparent” council.
But they were now sayi8ng that sites being considered for the gypsy transit site would not be revealed for 12 months – after next May’s elections.
He considered this a disgrace. The list should be published so people could see which sites were being considered.
Council chiefs say the document contains commercially sensitive material and wider disclosure of the location of potential sites might have an adverse impact on the value of those sites, causing loss to land owners.

 

 

 
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You know for one brief moment when i read the topic header i wondered if you could possibly have a secret gypsy. So i read it again and then i thought maybe it is a website where gypsies get their transit vans from that is handed down from generation to generation in sacred rituals promising dire consequences should any gypsy tell an outsider.

 

and then i thought SID you need to get more sleep and less coffee.

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Back to serious matters;-

Yes Ob's it would have an effect on the May election campaign. The point is should Councillor's really be hiding what they are doing and isn't playing political point scoring games to the detriment of the interests of the general public both deceitful and undemocratic?
Kevin Bennet freely expresses his opinions and whether one agrees or disagrees with his standpoint he has to be respected for his openness.  But what about all our other councillors? Most don't seem to realise that they are paid to keep an eye on what's going on, keep the public fully informed and actually get involved! If the leadership or a group of councillors are not being as transparent as they should be all the other councillors should be up in arms. Excepting Kevin, do they even bat an eyelid? 

 

 The Gypsy site is just one example, there will no doubt be many (or most) other projects being forwarded behind closed doors.

The biggest example is the Town Centre Regeneration Project - but this is the one whereby they may finally learn their lesson as other Town Councils to their great cost already have.  

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You know for one brief moment when i read the topic header i wondered if you could possibly have a secret gypsy. So i read it again and then i thought maybe it is a website where gypsies get their transit vans from that is handed down from generation to generation in sacred rituals promising dire consequences should any gypsy tell an outsider.

 

and then i thought SID you need to get more sleep and less coffee.

The less Coffee the better I say :wink:

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Just out of interest Sid, what kind of coffee do you drink?

As long as it tastes like coffee the brand does not really matter.

 

it is not so much the coffee as the amount. In theory i should sleep about one week a year :shock: :shock: :shock:

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Council chiefs say the document contains commercially sensitive material and wider disclosure of the location of potential sites might have an adverse impact on the value of those sites, causing loss to land owners.
 

 

 
 
 

 

Every reason why the document should be published, the Council is representing those landowners and have a duty to inform them of any project that may affect their existing situation. This is typical of the way that the council operate - don't inform anyone that something retrograde is about to happen in case public outcry prevents it from going ahead, they did this with the Bay House, Beech house and many other buildings in the town, and also lately the Ship In at Walton and it looks as if they are up to their old tricks again!.

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Well said Algy and I too found that council statement rather hard to swallow.  Just an excuse though in my opinions as any commercially sensitive material could easily be excluded form publication.  

Any land owners and residents surely have a right to know from the outset if if land belonging to them or near them is subject to any discussion behind closed doors.  Isn't the council supposed to be 'open and transparent' these days ?  Clearly not in this case and they shouldn't be allowed to just fob people off like they are trying to do here !!

Like Obs said though it's coming up to election time so none of them will want to alienate any possible voters by being open about it..... they should grow some balls and stop being so pathetic :evil:  

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Diz sums it up very well! 

 

they should grow some balls and stop being so pathetic :evil:  

 

Algy is right, there is every reason why the document should be disclosed.

Not just in this case but in every case the public in general should be fully informed regarding decisions made by Councillors.

WBC have a tendency to use the "commercial sensitivity"  excuse whenever they want to play Dictator but in reality when if ever could this be a real and legal excuse for making decisions in secret? 

 

All towns have a mandatory duty to provide Gypsy transit sites and Warrington should have done so many years ago.  A number of Gypsy sites in unsuitable locations which would normally have been refused planning permission have gained permission on appeal only because they have cited the lack of a mandatory site in Warrington. 

WBC have dragged their feet over sorting this issue due to their playing silly political point scoring games and because of this we will now end up with much more than we originally needed to. 

 

WBC should inform the public of any sites they have identified and the issue should then be open for general discussion.  The public should be able to discuss the positives and negatives of each site and also might suggest other sites for consideration. Isn't that what democracy is about?

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It depends on what type of planning permission they managed to get in the first place.
Those that got planning permission for permanent occupation can't be closed.  The ones granted permission for fixed terms would have to re-apply for permission once that term came to an end.
For any new applications which get refused there would be no grounds for appeal due to the 'lack of mandatory provision'.   
 
I believe the  Gypsy site at Walton has just come to the end of it's latest term of 10 yrs and wonder if this fact has prompted the council to finally sort mandatory provision in the town.

 

Last granted permission due to 'there being no mandatory provision', if this is the case when their next application goes in, the Walton Gypsy camp could be granted another 10yrs - which would not be conductive to other's plans for that area. 
The original Regeneration plans drawn up for the Walton Hall Estate included a back entrance, also Peel Holdings wanted a 'marina' along that stretch of the canal. 
The back entrance idea was blocked because it would require the demolition of the listed canal bridge.  However, since the partial demolition by 'accident' of the bridge it could be argued that there is not enough of the original left to merit it being listed and protected, (this has happened in other areas after freak accidents).
If the back entrance issue was sorted by building a new wider bridge, this would also solve any highways issues that might arise from any estates of yuppy apartments which usually evolve with the development of 'marinas'. So all that would remain blocking the posh plans would be the presence of a Gypsy site.
 
And before anyone points out that there is already an adequate back entrance to The Walton Estate, I know! 

 

(But...permission to demolish the bridge and as a reason to refuse planning permission to the Gypsies would not be something even considered if it was merely to support a private commercial enterprise).

 

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If you were selling your house, and the prospective buyers found out it was near one of the sites being considered, would you still say the Council should have published the list?

I would be bloody furious if I bought it and found out later the council had known and had been covering up the location .

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In fact as buyers must now be told of anything that could affect the value of a new home, and as we know there is going to be a transit camp somewhere in town and that it could be anywhere, shouldn't every seller have to state that the house for sale may be near to a travelers transit site? Now there's a vote winner lol

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Every reason why the document should be published, the Council is representing those landowners and have a duty to inform them of any project that may affect their existing situation. This is typical of the way that the council operate - don't inform anyone that something retrograde is about to happen in case public outcry prevents it from going ahead, they did this with the Bay House, Beech house and many other buildings in the town, and also lately the Ship In at Walton and it looks as if they are up to their old tricks again!.

Sorry, what Beech House does this refer to?  The Bay Horse was demolished before anyone could stop them, the Ship fell down - what's your evidence for the Council having prior knowledge? Ludicrous.

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Sorry, what Beech House does this refer to?  The Bay Horse was demolished before anyone could stop them, the Ship fell down - what's your evidence for the Council having prior knowledge? Ludicrous.

Lets not mention Bewsey Old Hall or the Old Grammar School as that would be ludicrous

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Sorry, what Beech House does this refer to?  The Bay Horse was demolished before anyone could stop them, the Ship fell down - what's your evidence for the Council having prior knowledge? Ludicrous.

Beech House was a Grade II listed building on Winwick Street Steve built in the late 18th century.   A restoration a programme was drawn up after consultation with English Heritage but it was suddenly demolished in 2001.

 

a report in the WG at the time said

 

 

"From the warrington Guardian -Thursday, 17 January 2002

 

THE demolition of a listed building in Warrington town centre has sparked anger among conservationists.

An old Georgian house, situated at 31A, Winwick Street - at the back of the former American Pool Centre - was pulled down in November to the astonishment of architecture lovers,

who assumed that its future was secure as it had been recognised as a structure of national importance and given listed status.

Harry Wells, chairman of Warrington Civic Society, said: "As far as I'm aware, an agreement was entered into to restore the building with English Heritage, to make it an area of conservation.

"This would have ensured some extensive restoration work, but instead the building has been reduced to rubble."

In a statement, Warrington Borough Council said that the building had been demolished on public safety grounds, as a matter of urgency and without a planning application having been submitted.

It continued: "A planning application was not submitted given the urgency and, under the circumstances, the owner submitted a statement addressing all the issues as required by the

Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990."

But Mr Wells added: "That side of town is giving rise to a number of new retail developments and this building was probably seen as inconvenient in the face of potential commercial activity.

"This public safety clause is, in my opinion, a loophole in the planning regulations and the buildings control people should have liaised with the planning committee before making a final decision.

"The building, formerly called the Beech House, has a rich history and was previously lived in by the Edelston family, who worked in the pin-making trade.

"In the last few years, the front of the premises was used as an American pool parlour, while the building remained empty."

There have been quite a few topics and mentions of Beech House on the forum over the years so if you use the forums search facility you should find them and more info about it but here is one of the links....

 

You did actually post on this one quite a few times too :wink:

 

http://forum.warrington-worldwide.co.uk/index.php?/topic/10363-hitler-rants-about-the-councils-attitude-to-our-historic-buildings/

 

 

 

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Steve, as we have your attention,  don't you think it ludicrous that the Council are hiding the proposed locations for the transit site from the people they purport to represent?

No - I'll try to generalise rather than be specific about Warrington. I can see this will provoke more questions, so I'll probably not respond in further detail.

 

There might be hundreds of "potential" sites, but for various reasons - including too close to residential property - a lot would be unsuitable. If you published the short list (which still might have dozens of sites) you worry lots of people unnecessarily, and end up with communities just highlighting the advantages of other sites not near them. It might be "transparent" but might not help objective decision-making. This seems to be the usual way councils work on this issue. Plymouth did ask for suggestions for (permanent) sites, but - if I understand it right - didn't publicise the chosen sites until they were chosen.

http://www.plymouth.gov.uk/gypsytraveller_consultation.pdf

http://www.plymouth.gov.uk/gypsyandtravellerssitesfaq

 

Likewise, W Sussex: 

http://www.chichester.co.uk/news/local/video-mixed-views-on-westhampnett-travellers-site-1-5871666

 

Interesting about sellers/buyers but then you might buy and suddenly find yourself with an unauthorised encampment right next door, which the transit site would address. I can't immediately trace the Council's argument but this is Suffolk:

There are no specific duties on County Councils or District and Boroughs to provide transit sites. The Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessments that took place in 2007 recognised a ‘need’ for transit provision, however, there are tangible costs associated with managing unauthorised encampments in terms of legal costs, clean up costs and officer time. ….  There is a duty of care to meet the needs of the Gypsy and Traveller community, and to manage the impact on the settled communities, when unauthorised encampments appear in their localities. This should not be overlooked.

 

Halton has a permanent site and a transit site; this is their view (in 2012) and - I've not checked - I assume the neighbouring authority is Warrington. 

In 2009, Halton Borough Council opened a transit site, which offers Gypsies & Travellers coming into Halton a safe place to stay where they are able to access services. Families are able to stay for a three-month period, which must be followed by three months away from the site before they can return. The transit site has greatly reduced unauthorised encampments in Halton – only 14 have occurred in the last two years and these were successfully dealt with within hours and the only associated cost was staff time. This compares favourably against a neighbouring authority without a transit site where there were over 60 unauthorised encampments over the same time period, a number of which took weeks to resolve and involved court action and the associated costs.

 

 

Anyway, the Council has changed its brief so that the site can't be near residential property. That raises the definition of "near" - for Appleton residents (like Cllr Bennett) I suspect the idea of "near" might be rather broad..

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Beech House was a Grade II listed building on Winwick Street Steve built in the late 18th century.   ...........

 

You did actually post on this one quite a few times too :wink:

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry, I'd forgotten (or never knew) that was known as Beech House. Now if you'd said 31A Winwick Street....

 

I did go in when it was derelict, and it was in a very poor state. That in itself is no reason to demolish, but I presume the risk was real.

 

It faced south (no Central station when it was built), and (before town planners were around to stop it) other buildings were built side on to it.

 

Looking at Harry Wells' site, Heath House was demolished for Midland Way; with the old British Legion building on St Austins Lane (not much left after a fire), are they the only listed buildings in Warrington where, since the 1970s, the Council has actually sought demolition (for other than H&S reasons)? The point is that the accusation that the Council routinely allows "inconvenient" listed buildings to be demolished is total nonsense.

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The Council may not allow it, but it doesn't do anything when it happens either.It often seems as if developers understand that if buildings and land are inconvenient to them, the Council will stand by while they do as they please with them. Andy Farrell has lots of previous in this regard and he is keeping up a not so proud tradition from WBC, which also includes allowing council employees to break the law alongside the developers they should be keeping in check.  

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