DARLINGTON BOROUGH COUNCIL has tabled proposals to significantly expand the number of pitches where the Gypsy and Traveller community can live.

Provisions for Gypsy and Travellers are considered to be relatively good across the borough and the North-East compared to many areas of the country.

And now they are set to be boosted thanks to the authority's plans to create 25 more pitches off Neasham Road.

Shera Rom or Head Gypsy Billy Welch said the proposed 1.4-hectare site, bounded by the existing Gypsy and Traveller site off Neasham Road, the Northern Echo Arena and the railway line, would make a significant difference for the community.

The Northern Echo: Darlington Gypsy Billy WelchDarlington Gypsy Billy Welch

Read more: 'We all have to be somewhere' says Darlington Gypsy Billy Welch as research reveals lack of pitches

Here’s what Northern Echo readers had to say: 

Judith Purdham said: "Leave them be and let them settle, I've met Billy a few times at Appleby fair and he's a gentleman."

Derek Darvill agreed, and said: "Leave them alone and concentrate on your own business they're part of our culture."

Claire Louise said: "This should happen everywhere. They have a right to live somewhere too."

John Mounsey was full of praise for Mr Welch. He said: "Billy Welch is an absolute gentleman, he only wants the best for his community and the area they live in."

On the new site, Paula Angrave said: "The site out the back of the arena has never caused a problem, why shouldn't they have somewhere to live. I have never met a more respectful bunch of people than the ones who live on this site."

Read more: Darlington gypsy community 'over the moon' at decision to expand pitches where they can live

However, not everyone was supportive of the plans. Dean Gray said: "Does this mean that they will pay council tax and ground rent like everyone else…live and let live I say but everyone has to be treat the same."

Michael Hay agreed: "It's a disgrace that we all have to pay rates for where we live but gypsies get to live anywhere they want free of charge (shocking)."

Ian Thompson said: "They have no respect for civilised society watch the channel 4 documentary the truth about traveller crime see what they refuse to acknowledge themselves."

But in response, Michelle Dodsworth said: "I live close by there and never had a problem with any of them and most of them keep themselves to themselves."