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City of York Council ‘in denial’ over Osbaldwick travellers’ sites
CONTROVERSY broke out at a York council meeting as a local travellers’ site was dubbed a “centre of criminality, violence and filth”.
The Independent councillor, who is opposing plans to expand the site. was told to stop speaking by the meeting’s chairman, the Lord Mayor of York, Coun Julie Gunnell, who branded his comments “offensive” and “not acceptable”.
The council will make a decision shortly on its own plans to extend the Osbaldwick site from 12 to 18 pitches, but four parish councils, backed by York Outer MP Julian Sturdy, have called for a public inquiry into the proposals.
Plans for new travellers’ sites in several locations in York, under the council’s draft Local Plan, are facing fierce local opposition despite the authority saying it has a duty to provide the accommodation.
Speaking during a debate on Local Plan petitions, Coun Warters said: “The number of signatures sends a clear message and is perfectly understandable.
“Taking the Osbaldwick gipsy caravan site as an example, why would anybody want a centre for criminality and violence located in their midst? Why would anybody want a centre of squalor and filth in their midst? Why would anybody want a centre of animal neglect and cruelty located in their midst?”
Coun Warters – who said he had “photographic evidence and police reports” to support his claims – told The Press afterwards that he believed the council was “in denial” about management of the existing and proposed sites, and this duty should lie with the Gypsy Council.
He said: “They understand the ways of their people and police things much better – political correctness has allowed this site to descend into anarchy”.
Christine Shepherd, chief officer of York Travellers’ Trust, said: “We and the council are aware of issues at this site and are looking at ways of resolving them. It is not going to happen overnight. It will be slow progress and there is only so much which can be done in a limited time, but the council is trying to put things right and make life easier for Osbaldwick residents. It would be totally unfair and unjust for all families at the site to be tarred with the same brush.”