Officers added Llansamlet Gypsy site to shortlist - claim
COUNCILLORS tasked with finding potential sites for Gypsies in Swansea say Llansamlet was added to a short- list of locations they had produced and were due to visit.
Swansea Council set-up a Task and Finish Group in March 2010 to evaluate suitable sites for Gypsies and travellers and make recommendations to the authority.
The group was made up of elected members, who earlier this year set out to visit five sites which they had shortlisted.
But five members of the group, made up of present and former councillors, have now put their names to a statement which reads: "During the week commencing April 9, a site visit was arranged to visit five sites the Task and Finish group had shortlisted.
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"The list of sites was only issued to members shortly before the day of the visit, and some of us only noticed that the list had been changed shortly before the site visits actually commenced, and a site in Llansamlet had been added."
Swansea Council has strongly refuted the allegation.
The statement goes on to say: "We expressed our disapproval to the officers accompanying the group, but felt unable to take the matter further since we were already well into the official local government election campaign. Llansamlet WAS NOT a site shortlisted by the elected members; we were told Llansamlet was included because of a decision made by officers." The statement is signed by councillors Penny Matthews and Tony Colburn, and former councillors Roger Smith, John Hague and June Evans.
Llansamlet already has one permanent Gypsy site, while one family is camped temporarily on the Swansea Vale park and ride. Last month, around 400 residents attended a meeting at Birchgrove Comprehensive School to voice their opposition to a new Gypsy site in Llansamlet.
They were told the former West Glamorgan County Council had, during the mid-1980s, formulised what became known as the West Glamorgan Agreement, which meant there would not be another travellers' site in the Llansamlet area.
A Swansea Council spokesman said: "The work of the previous task and finish group resulted in a number of potential sites being identified. Part of this work also included site visits and the councillors in the group were fully aware of all the sites they would be visiting. It is totally inaccurate to suggest additional sites were added in to the process prior to the visit. The current Task and Finish Group has been reviewing the work of its predecessor and no decisions have been made in relation to any potential sites."