Fresh controversy over proposed Gypsy and Traveller sites in East Lindsey

East Lindsey District Council headquarters.
East Lindsey District Council headquarters.

Fresh controversy has erupted over proposed provision of Gypsy and Traveller sites in East Lindsey.

At a meeting of the district council’s executive board last night (Wednesday), members agreed to earmark two locations - one off Brackenborough Road in Louth for a permanent site and another on Mablethorpe industrial estate for a transit site.

But the initiative prompted an instant response from former Mablethorpe mayor Coun Tony Howard who is not an executive board member but who was present at the meeting.

He said he would ‘call in’ the decision - a constitutional gambit which could require it to be deferred pending further consideration at a meeting of the overview committee.

He claimed a report to the executive board meeting was ‘invalid’ because it had failed to record the comments of councillors whose wards might be affected.

Any delay on allocating sites for Gypsies/Travellers could further delay publication of the 2016-31 Local Plan, landing ELDC in hot water with the Secretary of State. The authority has already had at least two warnings about its less-than-urgent approach to appropriate provision for Gypsies and Travellers.

If it fails to come up with a ‘sound’ Local Plan, the Secretary could appoint an external party to carry out the project - including the allocation of Gypsy/Traveller sites.

Coun Howard’s intervention did not please council leader Coun Craig Leyland who approached Coun Howard after the meeting and asked him to stay behind for ‘a word’.

Meanwhile, the decision to earmark the site off Brackenborough Road, Louth, is also likely to prove contentious.

Although the land known as Brackenfreya has longstanding planning permission for 11 pitches, no works have started.

According to a report to executive board members, ‘the site is currently on the market but the price is prohibitively high’.

However, at the board meeting, portfolio holder for finance Coun Nick Guyatt signalled that he would be prepared to enter negotiations.

Meanwhile, a shortlist of potential alternative locations included three plots of land in Alford and one each in Marshchapel, Skegness, Trusthorpe and another on the edge of Louth’s Fairfield Industrial Estate.

But for various reasons - such as size, availability or means of access these - these have now all been phased out of the reckoning.