THE need to provide more pitches for Gypsies and travellers and where to put them was discussed by a council tonight (Wednesday, January 13).

Several councillors on Stockton Borough Council’s cabinet committee said the public were on the phone and holding meetings, just one week after it was announced the authority are looking at six potential Gypsy sites.

The committee agreed a discussion document should now be taken for public consultation and that decision is now expected to be endorsed at a full council meeting.

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Bob Cook, leader of the council, stressed that every authority in the country have to examine and accommodate the need for expected rises in the Gypsy population. If the authority ignored the issue the Local Plan would not be endorsed by the Government and there would be a “free-for-all.”

Coun Cook said: “It’s an emotive problem we’ve got but every council has to go through this. We’ve got to get this through to enable us to defend other pieces of green land.”

Other councillors were already arguing the case for the potential site in their area to be removed from the discussion document.

Coun Cook responded by saying the six sites already identified could change. Even if a particular site became part of the Local Plan, it would be up to a private developer or member of the Gypsy to actually build the site and it may never happen.

It’s expected a six week public consultation period will begin on February 3.

The six areas so far identified for possible Gypsy sites are: land off Yarm Back Lane, Hartburn; Frederick Street in Stockton town centre; land between Bowesfield Crescent and the River Tees, Stockton; Mill Lane, Billingham; Eltham Crescent, Thornaby, and land between the Tees and Thornaby Road, Thornaby.