A green site near Rothwell has been earmarked for development as a ten-pitch temporary stopping site for travellers, years after it was bought by a now-defunct council.
The proposal was revealed when councillors for the Rothwell and Mawsley Ward, including Cllr Jim Hakewill (Ind), received an email from a council officer.
Now in the ownership of North Northants Council (NNC), people have been asked for ‘targeted stakeholder feedback’ – but not formal consultation of residents which angers Cllr Hakewill.
He said: “I’m furious about the process. Talk about smoke and mirrors. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it’s a duck – what they are saying is that it’s not a consultation, that it’s ‘engagement’.
"It lacks scrutiny and it is in the wrong place. We do need a temporary stopping place for travellers but this is being so poorly handled.
"I think they saw the site on a map. It’s two steep sides of a valley going down to a stream. It’s absolutely beautiful. Putting in ten pitches is inconceivable.”
The site, that is about 9 acres, was created in 1994 when the A14 was built. It contains the former road to Lamport, now used as a path by residents.
Earlier this year, Cllr Hakewill met with a senior officer to discuss creating a pocket park.
He said: “The old road makes a great place for children to cycle safely and leads out into the countryside for walkers. No hint was given that this was about to be announced.
“It feels like the idea is being driven by the availability of Government money rather than a proper consultation exercise involving both the settled and traveller community."
The Government’s Travellers Fund offers £10m capital funding for 2022/23 and bids from local authorities have to be in by June 12.
Cllr David Howes, NNC’s executive member for rural communities and localism, said: “The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities recently launched the Travellers Fund to support local authorities in building new transit and permanent traveller sites, to refurbish existing permanent traveller and transit sites and provide temporary stopping places and facilities for travellers.
“NNC intends to submit a bid into this fund for capital funding to assist in the provision of a temporary stopping place to provide safe and secure places to stop for transient travellers in North Northamptonshire. Officers have looked at several possible locations for a temporary stopping site, including near Junction 3 of the A14 at Rothwell, which currently seems the most suitable option.
“As part of this submission, targeted stakeholder feedback is being gathered to aid a funding bid application. This includes local MPs, town and parish councils, police and fire colleagues, plus where possible the travelling community. Should the scheme develop then we would look to do a more formal consultation with residents. If the site further progressed, then there would be a formal planning process and, again residents, would be asked for views and comments on this as part of the usual consultation process.”
Residents have until June 6 to respond to the survey at https://northnorthants.citizenspace.com/cet/82369af9/.