Temporary Gypsy sites considered

GYPSIES passing through the borough could be allowed to set up camp at two planned stopover sites in the Thorne area.

Doncaster Council wants to give travellers visiting the borough for short periods somewhere to park their homes in a bid to crack down on illegal camps.

Officers have identified Gibbons Lane, an unused authority-owned transit site, and the Tudworth A18 lay-by as possible locations.

But elected members are concerned about the site selection process and the cost of the proposals to taxpayers.

Some believe spending public cash on building and maintaining the dedicated sites would be unnecessary – especially as the council are making staff redundant as part of huge budget cuts.

A final decision is set to be made by mayor Peter Davies and his cabinet on February 16.

Coun Marilyn Green, chair of the overview and scrutiny panel, said councillors and constituents had reservations about the plans.

She added: “Permanent gypsy sites are very well run and are clean – but transit sites are not.

“Doncaster residents need to know where they are going, whether they are going to be cleaned up – and who’s going to pick up the bill.”

Currently the authority has no active stopping places after the Gibbons Lane site was closed due to a lack of security and repeated vandalism.

But officers believe retaining the large site is not needed to meet the anticipated demand. Instead they recommend creating several smaller sites.

A report presented to the council’s safer, stronger and sustainable communities overview and scrutiny panel on Monday said: “Consequently such groups have a tendency to park anywhere at their convenience, often at other people’s inconvenience, and the council and police have difficulty moving them on.”

The council wants to sell the Gibbons Lane site to the gypsy and traveller community for the land to be developed into a permanent site, according to the report.

Officers said informal discussions with potential buyers have suggested there would be a willingness to buy the site. It would create an extra ten permanent pitches for travellers.

But moves to sell the land, just off Kirton Lane between Thorne and Stainforth, can only be made once stopping sites have been provided elsewhere in the borough.

Doncaster had 231 separate caravans parked illegally across 53 roadside camps last year.