Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Wyre Forest Traveller site debacle

Tav over at the WFA has provided two worthy reports on the meetings in which the proposal for the travellers' sites required in Wyre Forest was discussed. The first on the initial Overview & Scrutiny meeting and the second on the subsequent Cabinet meeting.

I'm going to attempt to condense this into a single point and remove anything that might be deemed prejudicial to the case. Therefore instead of discussing traveller's gypsies etc. this will simply be a Project.

Wyre Forest is required to complete a Project and to do so needs a minimum of five sites to work. Experts have evaluated the area of Wyre Forest and produced a report identifying a possible 15 sites which are suitable. The O&S committee examined the report and recommended its presentation to Cabinet. The Cabinet then removed 8 of the sites from the list and left the remaining 7 available to public consultation.

At this point anyway might ask the question "What justification did the Cabinet have for removing 8 of the sites?" Hopefully the minutes, when produced, may reveal that. However it is worth noting that in the past the council has 'hidden' behind expert recommendations most notably the Icelandic Bank affair; so what makes these particular expert opinions incorrect?

Bringing context back into line, whether rightly or wrongly there is a negative discrimination against travellers. As such if someone from an area with a proposed site argued against it a question may arise if they are doing so because they genuinely consider the placement to be incorrect or if they're trying to protect their own ward's votes. Ordinarily this wouldn't be an issue as such would be balanced out by the rest of the committee, however in this case of the five members of the Cabinet three are based in the same ward. A ward which did have a site within it and was subsequently pruned out by said committee.

I'm not questioning integrity etc., but when anyone has the final say in a decision that may affect them adversely or otherwise their decision needs to be seen as being cleaner than clean.