No 'secret list' of proposed 28-day only traveller sites in Leeds, says council

Cottingley Springs caravan site, the first 'official' one for travellers built by Leeds City Council in 1969.
Cottingley Springs caravan site, the first 'official' one for travellers built by Leeds City Council in 1969.

Leeds City Council has denied that there is a “secret list” of locations which could be used as 28-day stopping sites for gypsies and travellers in the city during a heated debate.

Conservative councillors at the full council meeting today called for the executive member for communities, Coun Debra Coupar, to publish which places could become “negotiated stopping sites” for such communities in the authority’s Site Allocations Plan.

Under the scheme - thought to be the first of it kind in the country - there would be nine temporary caravan sites at so-far unspecified locations created on a rolling basis on vacant pockets of land which are awaiting redevelopment.

Families would be allowed to stay on the sites for up to 28 days with no fear of being evicted, but would have to sign a “good behaviour contract” with the council.

No one site would be used for the purpose more than once in any 12 month period.

Alwoodley Conservative Coun Neil Buckley believes the residents of areas which are potentially earmarked for such plans should be consulted before travellers are allowed to use them.

He had put forward a motion for the sites to be published so there “can be proper democratic oversight of the proposals”.

He told the meeting: “She [Coun Coupar] has to come clean and tell us where the secret list is.”

However Coun Coupar, a Labour member for Temple Newsam earlier said: “There are no secret sites”.

Her colleague Coun Richard Lewis told the meeting that locations could be spread evenly across the city.

The executive member for planning said: “We can ensure there is parity and certain wards don’t feel continually that they are bearing the brunt.”

Coun Buckley also wanted the Director of Resources and Housing to set out in a report to Executive Board how the council “can become more innovative in its use of monitoring and enforcement methods, so that when disruptive or costly activities occur on unauthorised encampments, those responsible can be held accountable”.

However Coun Coupar’s amendment to his motion, in which she described the current plans as an “innovative approach”, was successful by a vote of 54 to 25.