MORE than 500 people have formally written to a council over the possibility of Gypsy sites being built near their homes.

A further 800 people in the Thornaby area have signed a petition in protest against a proposal to create the site.

Stockton Borough Council has identified a need for 26 more Gypsy caravan pitches in its area and has consulted the public about possible sites.

Loading article content

The consultation period about six possible areas has lasted six weeks but came to an end today (Monday, March 17).

The authority will now produce a shorter list of preferred sites. The Government requires all councils to identify possible need for more caravan pitches in future but the authority itself does not have to build them.

So far the council has considered potential Gypsy sites at Yarm Back Lane, Hartburn; Frederick Street in Stockton town centre, land between Bowesfield Crescent and the River Tees, Stockton and Mill Lane, Billingham.

However, opposition appears to have strongest in Thornaby where two sites, Eltham crescent and land between the Tees and Thornaby Road, are being considered.

Labour Party activists in Thornaby have presented two petitions to the Labour leader of the council, Bob Cook.

Louise Baldock, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Stockton South, and local councillors Derrick Brown and Tracey Stott representing the ward have also handed Coun. Cook a petition containing around 300 names.

They also handed in a petition of over 500 names collected by residents of no political party.

Many were collected by Mike Russell who walks his dog on the field behind Thornaby baths every day and is concerned about wildlife in the area.

Les Hodge, of Stainsby Beck Residents Association, also collected about 30 formal responses from people againts the scheme.

Louise Baldock said: “The whole community has come together in an unprecedented way to ask the council to remove them from any future plans for Gypsies and Travellers.”

Another petition of about 35 names, from the Hackworth Court area of Stockton, has also been received by the council.

Coun Cook, said: “I would like to assure residents that their views will be carefully considered so that they can inform part of a further assessment of the sites. Preferred sites for allocation will then be identified and residents will have another opportunity to comment on these during a final round of consultation.”