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By Robert Cox Friday 19 July 2013 Updated: 25/07 09:53
GYPSIES are trying to pressure Warwick District Council to secure permanent traveller sites, says a veteran councillor.
Long-time Whitnash independent councillor Bernard Kirton believes gypsies are trying to force the council into action after his town saw yet another short-lived gypsy camp come and go.
It comes as council chiefs consider controversial plans to provide 31 permanent pitches for gypsy and traveller caravans in the district. A public consultation is currently on-going over 20 possible sites, which has provoked strong opposition from residents who do not want the sites on their doorstep. Council chiefs have admitted they would rather not have to provide such sites but have been ordered to by the Government.
Coun Kirton said the recent arrival of 11 caravans and two motorhomes on Redlands Park, off Spa View, was not accidental.
"I have a distinct feeling this is politically organised by people wanting to make a point. It is politically motivated," he told The Observer.
"Gypsies want to put pressure on councils like ours as they want permanent gypsy sites. My view is that this is not the way to get people on side by turning up and being a nuisance."
But the traveller community have accused politicians of using the issue for personal gain.
Joseph Jones, gypsy council chairman, said: "It is apparent that local MPs and councillors are again using the gypsy site identification project as a political football, to gain votes in the next election.
"Just how are we to integrate into today's society, when MPs and councillors, are promoting more segregation, through their own selfishness and power? Have we not contributed to local commerce, through the agricultural industry, fought in two world wars, and more over been in the UK for 500 years?
"Now, because we like living in tin cans, we have become the UK's untouchables."
The group spent six days camped on Redlands Park before they left on Thursday July 11, after setting woodland on fire, leaving firefighters and then council contractors to clear-up in their wake.
And the day before the Redland gypsies arrived, another group left a makeshift camp at Myton Fields in Warwick - a favourite site over the years - again leaving the area rubbish-strewn for the council to clear.
Warwick District Council said the clear up cost was met buy its existing cleaning contract and would incur no extra cost to the taxpayer.
The public consultation on gypsy and traveller site options runs until Monday July 29.
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