Minister rejects Julian Sturdy’s call over Osbaldwick travellers’ site expansion plans

York Press: York Outer MP Julian Sturdy York Outer MP Julian Sturdy

AN MP’s plea for a public inquiry into controversial plans to expand a York travellers’ site has been rejected by a Government Minister.

York Outer Tory MP Julian Sturdy asked the Government to call in City of York Council’s proposal to create an extra six pitches to relieve overcrowding at the 12-pitch site at Osbaldwick, which he claims has been badly managed by the local authority.

But Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis has now told the MP that, while he noted his continuing concerns, the scheme had been given planning permission by the council in November “and the application was properly for the council to decide”.

He said the Secretary of State had no powers to review the case and consider fresh representations, but the Homes and Communities Agency had been working with the council to ensure satisfactory site management arrangements were in place at the site.

He said the Government was currently considering whether further steps could be taken to improve planning policies for such sites, and he offered to meet the MP to discuss the wider issues he had raised.

Mr Sturdy said he was disappointed the Secretary of State had no powers to review the case or consider fresh representations.

Mr Sturdy said: “To my mind, the council’s decision to approve their own planning application for the extension and the way it has been conducted has sadly left public trust in the local authority at an all-time low in the communities surrounding the site.”

He said he remained determined to do whatever he could to prevent spades hitting the ground until the council could show it could adequately manage the site, and he had taken the Minister up on his offer of a meeting.

Osbaldwick Independent councillor Mark Warters said he was disappointed that what was described as Government rhetoric about a new approach to planning over travellers’ sites had not been matched by action.

Coun Linsay Cunningham-Cross, Labour cabinet member for crime and stronger communities, said: “Through this action, the Government has signalled the correct process and decision was made.

“We welcome this outcome and look forward to improving the quality of the site and the management of it for the benefit of the whole community.”

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