Friday, February 12, 2010

Tory Pledge on Travellers

Gordon welcomes renewed Tory pledge on travellers

Local Conservative Parliamentary Candidate, Gordon Henderson, has welcomed a renewed pledge by David Cameron to clamp down on legal loopholes that allow travellers to exploit the planning system.

Proposals announced this week would see scrapped planning rules which compel councils to build sites for travellers on Green Belt land, as would the right of travellers to claim special treatment under the Human Rights Act, which the Tories would replace with a British Bill of Rights.

Bob Neill MP, Tory spokesman for local government and planning, contrasted the difficulties homeowners have in obtaining planning permission to build on rural land with the special treatment given to travellers.

“The British public want to see fair play for all, rather than special treatment being given to some. Labour’s changes have undermined community cohesion by creating a legitimate sense of injustice in the planning system.”

Currently, Government “diversity and equality” planning guidelines call for “positive action” and tell planners to give minority groups like travellers special treatment in the planning process (Hansard, 9th Feb 2009, Col.1700WA). Promoting “diversity and equality” is now a material consideration in the planning process, but the effect on house prices from an illegal traveller camp is not (Hansard, 9th Sept 2009, Col. 2014WA).

This two tier planning system is the root cause of the current controversy in Bobbing which has seen planning officers recommending approval for a planning application submitted by a gypsy family to develop land that is sited in an important countryside gap, on which the previous owners were refused permission to build a bungalow.

Welcoming Mr Neill’s statement Mr Henderson said:

“Bob is right. It is scandalously unfair that there is one set of rules for local settled people who want to build new homes, or, make alterations to their houses, and an entirely different set for travellers who have been given special treatment and appear to be able to build where they like.

“I am delighted that David Cameron has recognised this unfairness and has promised to change planning rules to give more say to local people, rather than be dictated to by bureaucrats in Whitehall and politicians in Westminster.”


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