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Petition launched by Thanet councillor who warns sites proposed for temporary traveller pitches are 'unsafe'

A petition has been launched by a councillor warning local authority chiefs that two proposed temporary sites for travellers are dangerous places for children to stay.

Cllr Reece Pugh, who represents Thanet villages, is demanding Potten Street car park in St Nicholas and land off Shottendane Road in Margate are scrapped from plans to create the 'tolerated' sites.

Cllr Reece Pugh
Cllr Reece Pugh

The two pieces of land have been earmarked by Thanet District Council, which removed Tivoli Brooks in Margate and Ramsgate Port from the original shortlist.

But Cllr Pugh, who describes the process as a "farce" so far, says the two recommended sites are not suitable for temporary accommodation either.

"Neither are suitable for people to reside at, even temporarily, and the plans brought forward before cabinet are drastically different from when the list of sites was put forward by the working party," he writes in his petition.

"Potten Street car park is located next to the A299 Thanet Way and is unsafe for children and families to reside at, and the land at Shottendane Road is prime agricultural land which as we come out of the lockdown and pandemic we must do all we can to preserve for future needs."

He is demanding the council conducts a more thorough search and assessment for sites, removing Potten Street and Shottendane Road from the list and prioritising the use of brownfield land.

Travellers are a common occurrence in Dane Park in Margate
Travellers are a common occurrence in Dane Park in Margate

"The two proposed are not safe; the government’s own planning guidance on traveller sites makes it clear that they should not be situated in rural areas close to housing" he said.

"This entire process has been a farce from beginning to end and the council is at risk of wasting ratepayers' money on a scheme that will not be suitable nor solve the current issues we have with illegal encampments."

Two weeks ago, cabinet members were due to discuss plans for tolerated sites to help cope with the rise in encampments, but talks failed to happen due to an incorrect document being sent out to councillors.

The council says temporary tolerated sites, where travellers can pitch for an agreed amount of time, allow easier management of amenities such as waste collection and toilet provision, reducing the impact on the local area, while it looks for a long-term plan.

A spokesman for Thanet council said: "The decision on temporary tolerated stopping sites will be made by cabinet.

Travellers set up camp in Palm Bay, Cliftonville, two weeks ago
Travellers set up camp in Palm Bay, Cliftonville, two weeks ago

"The next cabinet meeting is scheduled to take place on September 17.

"Any councillor who wishes to comment on an agenda item can register to speak under Council procedure rule 20.1.

"The process for submitting a petition to Thanet District Council is to either use the council's e-petition facility or to send a paper petition for the attention of the committee services manager.

"There is then a process by which the petition is brought before councillors.

"We don't accept other online petitions. When they are submitted they are treated as correspondence."

To see the petition click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

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