A GYPSY leader has attacked Kirklees Council for not providing land for a permanent gypsy caravan site.
And Hughie Smith, president of the Gypsy Council, also claims that the number of unauthorised gypsy encampments springing up in the area are the council’s “own making”.
He said that if Kirklees Council met with the Gypsy Council and authorised a proper site then taxpayers’ money wouldn’t be wasted on evictions and clean-ups.
This month unauthorised travellers’ caravans have been moved from land at New Mill Road in Honley, Cooper Bridge, Knowl Park in Mirfield, land off Primrose Lane, Littletown, Springwood car park and the Cliff Road car park in Dewsbury.
In April people living in caravans were evicted from land next to Whiteley’s Garden Centre, off Far Common Road in Mirfield.
Previously, they have been evicted from land at Fieldhouse Lane, off Leeds Road in Bradley which Mr Smith says is an ideal site for a permanent set-up.
Mr Smith, who lives near Wetherby, said there are 30 families who need land to park their caravans on in Kirklees.
He said: “There used to be a gypsy site on Great Northern Street and lots of the children used to go to local schools like St Patrick’s and they mixed with the settled community and I don’t see why it can’t be the same.
“Kirklees Council and councillors need to forget quibbling about how much it was costing to clear up unauthorised encampments and instead accept and work with us towards a meeting.
“We’ve already told the council that we would develop and manage the site at no cost to the public purse.
“Kirklees Council’s only contribution would be in helping us find land upon which the necessary site or sites could be provided and in granting planning permission.”
Mr Smith said the gypsies didn’t want any ‘hand-outs’ and were prepared to pay for the site.
He said: “Only by having somewhere they can legally move to will our families stop establishing unauthorised sites such as that at Knowl Park.”
Mr Smith said he believes Kirklees Council deliberately opposed a site at Fieldhouse Lane, off Leeds Road even though it didn’t need the land.
He said: “Wakefield Council have provided sites for gypsy families as have Barnsley and Doncaster.”
Kirklees Council cabinet member Peter McBride said it would be an ideal situation if Kirklees Council could find a site for the gypsies.
“But one of the problems is that the sites that have been used in the past have been wrecked and they have caused quite a lot of damage in the area,’’ he said.
“And it makes the public in the area say that they don’t want them if they cause a lot of rumpus – and this has been true on sites like Leeds Road.
“It is difficult providing a site that’s not going to be where the non-nomadic population are not adversely affected by the gypsies.”
Clr McBride said: “The gypsies we are referring to are not gypsies in a Romany sense but are nomadic people.
“They have different cultural backgrounds and ways of living and there’s hardly any meeting between the nomadic people and the settled population.
“In the past there has been conflict between the two groups in areas where they have decided to settle and this is based on previous experiences
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