MP calls for end to special planning measures for Gypsies and Travellers

One of the proposed sites, in Scott Road, Kettering
One of the proposed sites, in Scott Road, Kettering

An MP has said people in his constituency have been moved to tears worrying about the impact of planning regulations for Gypsies and Travellers.

Kettering MP Philip Hollobone called for the Government to accept his private member’s bill, which would remove special provisions for Gypsies and Travellers in the planning system.

He told MPs on Tuesday (February 4) that people in Kettering feared having new sites earmarked in their neighbourhoods, and said some rural people in the borough were being terrorised by the threat of crime from Gypsies and Travellers.

“Basically, the bill would do what we have all been asking for, which is to remove all special provisions for Gypsies and Travellers in the planning system so that everyone is on exactly the same level playing field when they make a planning application,” Mr Hollobone said.

“Why should there be any special provisions for those calling themselves Gypsies and Travellers, especially when we have learned today that three quarters of those people live in houses like everyone else? I am not convinced that there are as many Gypsies and Travellers as everyone says there are.

“People in my constituency are being brought to tears worrying about the planning regulations on Gypsies and Travellers.

“It is not unfair to say that some parts of the rural and farming community are being terrorised by the threat of theft, crime, rubbish and antisocial behaviour from local Gypsy and Traveller groups.

“In Kettering and other communities within my constituency, local people are understandably worried about where Kettering Borough Council, of which I have the privilege to be a member, will eventually decide to site up to 37 pitches by 2031.

“One area that is causing huge concern is the Scott Road garages site right in the middle of Kettering, where there could be a number of pitches.”

A Kettering Council meeting next week will consider responses to the consultation on Gypsy and Traveller sites in the borough, which was carried out last summer.

Members of the public can address the committee, both for and against each proposed site.

Mr Hollobone said: “The issue is not Kettering Borough Council’s fault – it has to do what the Government are telling it to do. Government regulations say that the council has to provide sites for 37 pitches by 2031.

“Through my private member’s bill, I argue that that requirement should be abolished. There should not be pressure on local authorities to come up with a designated number of sites, and abolishing that requirement would allay a lot of fears in my community.”

The MP also raised the issue of one particular village, saying: “Braybrooke, which has 325 residents on the electoral roll, is being threatened with a growing number of unauthorised and authorised encampments that might eventually surround the village, including a greenfield site of 37 acres split into 60 plots, which Travellers are increasingly moving into.”