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Bournemouth and Poole urged to set up travellers’ sites
BOURNEMOUTH and Poole have been urged to provide official travellers’ sites after councillors took a major step towards setting up sites elsewhere in Dorset.
A Dorset County Council committee yesterday recommended establishing a temporary transit site at either Weymouth or Piddlehinton.
But it also recommended working with Dorset Police and the councils of Bournemouth and Poole to explore another temporary site in the east of the county.
In another recommendation, the committee said a planning application should be prepared to secure a temporary transit site at the Great Dorset Steam Fair for another five years.
Consultants have previously suggested sites in Bournemouth and Poole only for the councils to drop them in the face of local opposition.
Cllr Robin Cook, who chairs the county’s environment overview committee, said: “This issue has been rattling on for a long time and it’s not anywhere near being resolved throughout the county, but at least Dorset County Council have taken a lead in identifying two sites that we’re prepared to put up for temporary transit sites in the county.
“We have said, on the basis of that happening, we must have discussions with the other district and borough councils and unitary authorities with a view to getting further sites in the south east of the conurbation.
“That must include sites provided by the unitary authorities within their boundaries.”
Police and crime commissioner Martyn Underhill praised the committee for its “forward thinking” proposals.
“This means police powers in relation to unauthorised encampments in rural areas of Dorset will be strengthened and this will remove community tensions. This is a good day for Dorset,” he said.
Cllr Mike White, deputy leader of the Borough of Poole, said finding a suitable site in the borough was an “enormous challenge as Poole is surrounded by protected heathland, Green Belt and coastline”.
He added: “For this reason, we are strongly lobbying the government to change existing legislation which requires individual local authorities to provide transit sites for travellers so that a Dorset-wide solution to this issue can be reached.”
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