THE Gypsy Council has accused Borough of Poole of failing gypsies and travellers by not providing permanent sites in the borough.

Joe Jones, chairman of the Gypsy Council, has also hit out at “disgusting behaviour” from councillors in treating the matter as a “political football”.

He said: “Councillors are creating racial tensions and anti-social behaviour from the wider community. What they are failing to say is that it is through their lack of commitment to identify land suitable for gypsy and traveller occupation, lack of carrying out policy, that has created the situation within the borough.”

Borough of Poole has identified two temporary transit sites, at Creekmoor and Oakdale, due to go before the planning committee in March, which have been opposed by residents and ward councillors. There is a residential site of 15 pitches at Mannings Heath which was completely refurbished within the last 10 years.

He added: “This disgusting behaviour from elected members has to stop. They are elected to represent every member of society, not to vilify and dogmatise those who have no power to change the situation.”

There seemed to be a consensus of where gypsies and travellers could not stay but a lack of information about where they could, he said and urged the community, MPs and councillors to get together to identify suitable land.

Council leader, Cllr Elaine Atkinson, said the council did not condone racial abuse or any behaviour contrary to the Equalities Act. She said they had worked hard to balance the needs of residents with the needs of the gypsy and traveller community.

It had not been possible to identify a suitable permanent transit site but they were seeking a change in legislation to enable a joint provision with neighbours, she said.

“Poole and Bournemouth have similar problems in that they have boundaries with each other, heathland to the north and the sea to the south,” she added.

“Rather than ignore the problem, the council, in consultation with the police and residents across the borough, decided to look at the provision of a temporary stopping place for 2014,” she said.

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