MP slams ‘ghettoisation of the countryside’ over Gypsy and Traveller sites

A proposed site on Scott Road, Kettering
A proposed site on Scott Road, Kettering

An MP has slammed what he has described as the ghettoisation of the countryside due to councils being forced to find sites for Gypsies and Travellers to live on.

Philip Hollobone, Conservative MP for Kettering, has introduced a private member’s bill which states special provision in planning law should not be made for Gypsies and Travellers. Kettering council is currently consulting on where 37 sites should be placed, something it is statutorily obliged to do.

But addressing MPs this afternoon (Tuesday, July 9), Mr Hollobone said: “It’s no exaggeration to say many of my constituents have been brought to tears by some of the proposals.

“Kettering Borough Council has to follow national planning regulations. It has, by law, to identify 37 sites. It has no choice in this matter.”

In Braybrooke, the MP said, children at the village primary school came exclusively from the Gypsy and Traveller communities. He added: “How can the ghettoisation of our countryside have been allowed to take place under national planning regulations?”

Mr Hollobone, who also serves as a borough councillor, described some of the sites identified by the authority, including in Scott Road, Kettering, Harrington Road, Rothwell and near the old sewage works in Burton Latimer, as outrageous.

“Why should one category of person be treated differently under the planning regulations than any other?” he asked.

“There has to be a balance in this system and the reason that that situation was allowed to develop is because Gypsies and Travellers are effectively given special provision and my belief is that everyone should be treated the same.”

Earlier this week, planning minister Brandon Lewis told Mr Hollobone he would visit Kettering to see the scale of the problem.

The bill will get a second reading in the autumn, where Wellingborough MP Peter Bone will be one of its co-sponsors.