York MP Accused of "Politics of Fear" Over Plans for More Travellers Sites' in City
3:32pm 8th May 2014
(Updated 5:55pm 8th May 2014)
A Conservative MP is being accused of spreading the "politics of fear" over plans for more travellers sites in York.
The city council plans to expand the travellers site at Osbaldwick and build new ones in Elvington, Huntington, Dunnington and Knapton, in it's Local Plan for 2015-2030.
In his response to the Local Plan, Julian Sturdy's accused the council of "positive discrimination" in favour of travellers and against local people. York Labour say comments in leaflets sent out by Julian Sturdy (below) claiming the council will make York "the traveller capital of the county" are "inflammatory".
But Labour council leader James Alexander says the MP is discriminating against travellers and has written him to ask for a meeting about the language being used in the debate over the Local Plan. In a statement James Alexander said:
"The Conservative-Lib Dem government has set councils the task of developing Local Plans, indeed it has gone on record saying York should get a Local Plan adopted. Julian Sturdy, like me, wants York to have a plan to make sure that there isn’t unrestricted development on green field sites. I also want us to have a plan to make sure that there’s a boost in affordable housing supply. To do that we are required by law to show how we can meet demand for traveller sites. I can’t change that law, but Julian Sturdy’s government could, if they wanted to. Playing on people’s fears does nothing to help York meet the requirements of the law, and it could actually put the whole Plan at risk."
"If any MP talked about other communities in the way that we’ve heard the traveller community in York described, there would quite understandably be outrage."
Julian Sturdy has responded saying:
“The Council’s reasoning for proposing further gypsy and traveller sites on York’s greenbelt land is entirely unconvincing, and I have made this quite clear in my submission to the Council on the Local Plan proposals.
“What we need is a more coherent local plan that safeguards the interests of local residents and reflects the needs of our city. It is a shame that Councillor Alexander is reverting to cheap political point scoring to try and mask over his unsustainable local plan proposals that are causing so much concern in communities across York Outer.”
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