Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 15 January 2009


Plymouth City Council has unveiled plans for 3 travellers’ sites across the city, one of them on the western edge of my constituency at Coypool. This has gone down like a led balloon for obvious reasons with the people who currently live there and who can blame them.

First of all no fault can be attached to the council. It has become a government requirement – the law of the land – that local authorities should make provision for a combination of permanent and temporary travellers’ sites where demand is shown. In Plymouth it seems we need up to 60 sites. If the council refuses to act, which must have been very tempting, the government will intervene and select the sites themselves and we don’t want that. One of the arguments for providing permanent sites is to prevent travellers from gate-crashing anywhere they like, causing mayhem, as they currently do. I am not sure I agree with this. Why should tax payers fund sites for those who make no contribution?

The three possible sites on which the city are consulting are spread throughout the three constituencies so they have been as even-handed as possible. Coypool is what’s known as a brown field site, meaning it has had economic activity on it before (Royal Marines). It is a vast site and I can see why it has been ear-marked, but we still don’t want it in this area. Yes I am being a nimby.  I take a robust view on travellers. I am all for people wanting to be free and to drop out of the rat race, but my experience over the years is that these modern day gypsies take a lot and give little back. Great mounds of rubbish tend to follow from their temporary encampments and anecdotal evidence suggests petty crime increases whilst they are in our midst.

But we must not simply wail in protest. We need to articulate genuine reasons for concern. The Coypool site is very close to quiet residential areas and has significant access issues for large vehicles. I have been assured by the leader of the council that this is far from a done deal and our arguments will be listened too.

2009 starts as many other years have started – with the need for an energetic campaign. Looking back over 16 years, we have won some battles and lost some. Here is one I would like to win. What do you think?

posted by Gary @ 16:53