Swanage councillors disown leaflet about proposed gypsy site

Councillor Gary Suttle and councillor Bill Trite who represent Swanage on Dorset Council say they did not write a leaflet that objects to a proposed gypsy site in Swanage.

Land on the corner of Ulwell Road and Washpool Lane has been identified as a possible location for a gypsy and traveller site for two caravans, in a planning document produced by Dorset Council called the Dorset Local Plan.

Residents are currently being asked to comment on the draft Dorset Local Plan, which also includes a proposal to build 150 new homes on land next to Prospect Allotments in Swanage.

Councillor Gary Suttle
Dorset Council

Councillor Gary Suttle

“We did not write this document”

Leaflets that include the names of councillor Gary Suttle and councillor Bill Trite, have been circulating in Swanage urging residents to object to the plans to allocate this land for a gypsy and traveller site.

Councillor Gary Suttle said:

“We did not write this document. People who write this sort of leaflet really need to put their own name on it, so that people know whose opinions they are supporting.

“Anyone who wishes to comment on the inclusion of the gypsy and traveller site in the local plan consultation should do so on the Dorset Council website and if they cannot do that, they can contact the council on 01305 252500 for a paper copy or email planningpolicy@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk

Proposed location of gypsy and traveller site in Swanage

Proposed location, highlighted in pink, of possible gypsy and traveller site in Swanage as identified in the Dorset Local Plan

Legal obligation to identify sites

All local authorities under the Housing Act 2004, have a legal obligation to identify sites to meet the current and future needs of gypsies and travellers.

By proactively identifying possible sites, councils are able to allocate provision in a planned way, rather than decisions being made on an ad hoc basis by planning applications or by planning appeals.

The failure to identify and allocate sites also makes it harder for councils to take enforcement action against unauthorised sites.

By identifying land for a gypsy and traveller site, it does not necessarily mean that the area will definitely be used for that purpose but if a planning application was submitted for a site on the allocated land, it is more than likely that planning permission would be granted.

The area of land in Swanage is one of 15 sites identified as a possible gypsy and traveller site across the Dorset Council area in the Dorset Local Plan.

“We strongly oppose any form of racism, prejudice and discrimination”

Councillor David Walsh, Dorset Council portfolio holder for planning, said:

“It has come to my attention that leaflets are circulating around Swanage regarding the Dorset Council Local Plan’s proposal for a gypsy and traveller site on land on the corner of Ulwell Road and Washpond Lane.

“While we welcome residents raising awareness of the Dorset Local Plan and the opportunity to respond to our public consultation, we strongly oppose any form of racism, prejudice and discrimination.

“The leaflet that was circulated included the names of councillor Suttle and Trite. We would like to stress that this was not prepared or endorsed by them.

“The purpose of the consultation is to gain feedback from residents, businesses and other organisations on the proposals in the Dorset Local Plan.

“We don’t want to discourage people from discussing the local plan but we also have a responsibility to prevent the spread of Covid-19. For these reasons, people should not be distributing leaflets to raise awareness of particular issues in the plan because of the risk around spreading Covid”.

The Dorset Council consultation on the Dorset Local Plan will run until Monday 15th March 2021. Once all comments have been received, Dorset Council will respond and will issue a revised version.

The document will have to go through several further consultation stages before it can be formally adopted as policy.

Further information

  • Information about Swanage is on pages 64 to 70 in the Dorset Council Local Plan Options Consultation document – Volume 2 – South Eastern Dorset (January 2021)
  • Gypsy and traveller site allocations are detailed in the Dorset Council Local Plan Options Consultation document – Appendices 1-5 (January 2021)
  • To comment on the Dorset Local Plan, a form is available on the Dorset Council website

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