CHANGES have been made to a planning document which outlines where sites for gypsies and travellers should be located and what those sites should look like.

This follows the massive clean up operation earlier this summer after unauthorised travellers site was set up at Alcester Rugby Club.

A council report explained that the latest guidelines followed a six-week consultation at the start of the year and changes included widening the areas where new sites could be created while removing the need for recreational areas where there were ten or more pitches. 

Deputy leader Cllr Daren Pemberton presented the item and said: “Our biggest challenge remains the lack of a supply of land being brought forward to accommodate the needs of the gypsy, traveller and travelling showpeople community.

“This is a way of moving us further forward and in the full knowledge that if there is a magic bullet for this issue it is around the availability of sites. We continue to press landowners.”

After the incident in Alcester, Mark Cargill, councillor for Alcester and Rural, said he had written to Christopher Pincher, Minister of State for Housing, about the issue.

The MP had told him that ‘regarding unauthorised developments, it is clear that effective enforcement is important to tackle breaches of a planning control that would otherwise have an unacceptable effect on the amenity of an area’

Cllr Cargill said: “If we are ‘relaxing’ the criteria then we have to be absolutely certain that any unauthorised pitches are referred immediately to our enforcement team and action taken, otherwise we are opening ourselves up to yet more potential abuse of the planning system.

He added:“My point is this – sometimes we see pitches put in, sometimes using subterfuge, and it is difficult for our officers to come along and say there is a problem.