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CARAVAN SITE: Council approves policy for allocating pitches

CARAVAN SITE: Council approves policy for allocating pitches

Image: LDRS

Work to bring a council-run caravan site up to scratch is nearing completion in Stafford town centre – meaning new residents will be able to move in.

Demand for pitches at the gypsy and traveller site at Glover Street has led to a waiting list of families hoping for a space.

Concerns have been raised in recent years however by Stafford residents about the state of the site and pitches being left unfilled when they were vacated. Last year just four out of 12 pitches were being used.

Stafford Borough Council gave the green light last year for the site, which opened more than 40 years ago, to be refurbished. Funding for the improvements was allocated by the authority a number of years ago but the project was delayed.

Work includes the replacement of utility blocks, fencing repairs and new car parking spaces. But three of the 12 pitches are being removed after part of the site was found to be in a flood zone.

On Thursday 20th June members of the council’s cabinet approved a policy to allocate the remaining vacant pitches to new tenants.

Councillor Jeremy Pert, cabinet member for community and health, said: “The council is upgrading Glover Street’s gypsy and traveller site in line with the commitments we made over the last few years. We’re in the process of spending £170,000 to bring the site up to a modern-day standard.

“To facilitate the refurbishment we deliberately left some of the pitches vacant so that we can minimise disruption to people on that site. We are now nearing the end of the works and we need to re-let those vacant pitches – that’s the reason for what we’ve been working towards over the last few years, otherwise the investment would be worthless.

“To be able to re-let those pitches we need to do it on a fair basis and we need a policy that does that based on need. We also need to take into account matching up the policy with our latest homeless policy and recent legislative changes.”

A cabinet report said: “What was needed was a refresh of the Glover Street policy to ensure that the treatment of all residents of Stafford Borough in being allocated either a house or a pitch on a traveller site was consistent and no one group was treated differently. Therefore, the Glover Street policy has been updated to align with the priority banding of the main allocations policy and to be consistent with the approach to local connection.

“Whilst there is no legal requirement for a local authority to have an allocations policy for the provision of gypsy/traveller sites within its ownership, it is good practice to have such a policy which mirrors, or largely replicates, its existing allocations policy for social housing.”

Words: Kerry Ashdown, Local Democracy Reporter

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