Too little, too late for valid decision on travellers site

September 1, 2020 9:32 PM
By Peter Dobbs

David Hughes (Peter Dobbs)

Cllr David Hughes, Mayor of Matlock

Derbyshire Dales District Council meet via Zoom on Wednesday 2nd September. They are tasked with making choices on both a future permanent traveller site and a temporary 'tolerated' site so the traveller family in question have somewhere to stay whilst the permanent site is prepared.

Opposition councillors are concerned by the way that they are being expected to make very significant decisions without sufficient information about the advantages and disadvantages of each site. In particular they call into question the recently announced Tansley site, where key facts about its suitability have not been made available.

Liberal Democrat councillor and Mayor of Matlock, David Hughes comments. "As councillors we must abide by our code of conduct, which says that we should be 'Listening to the interests of all parties, including relevant advice from statutory and other professional officers, taking all relevant information into consideration, remaining objective and making decisions on merit'.

Unlike most of the briefings we receive before a Council meeting, this report does not have any 'officer recommendation'. We are unsure if that is intentional or an oversight. In either case we do not think that we should be making such important decisions on such limited evidence".

"I feel that a detailed appraisal of each site with such information as costs (initial and ongoing), available services, planning issues and environmental impact should be undertaken, as well as consultation with emergency services for accessibility".

"To achieve this I am suggesting that a working party be set up and I will be proposing the following motion at tomorrow's meeting (2nd September)".

'To set up a working group from across the political groups to determine the information and process required for Council to make a decision on merit concerning the location of a traveller site in Derbyshire Dales. The sites to be evaluated would include those already proposed and any other sites that may be available. The working party should report by December 31st 2020 to avoid unnecessary delay to an urgent decision'.

"I appreciate that this will seem to some as yet more procrastination but there seems to me to be little point in the Council being bounced into a decision that they might regret when the full facts of a particular site emerge".

Satelllite images of sites (Apple Maps)

The four sites under consideration

Satellite images (c) Apple Maps