No decision on Swansea travellers site as councillors ask for more land to be considered
SWANSEA councillors have thrown out a recommendation to develop traveller sites in Fforestfach and Llansamlet — and asked for more plots, including privately-owned land, to be considered.
The council’s cabinet will now consider the vote at tonight’s council meeting — but there is no indication yet as to how long the new search may take.
Councillors had been due to vote on a recommendation by officers that the former greyhound track in Fforestfach and land off Peniel Green Road be selected as sites for the county’s second official travellers’ site — and to seek planning permission for both.
But before that motion could be discussed, Labour Morriston councillor Robert Francis Davies proposed an amendment that “the cabinet adopts a whole Swansea approach” and considers all land options, not just council-owned land.
He told the meeting that if privately-owned land were identified as the best site, then money from the sale of authority-owned land could be ring-fenced and earmarked to buy it.
The amendment was passed unanimously.
A council spokesman said: “The latest proposal is that we look at more sites within Swansea to see if there is somewhere suitable for a gypsy and traveller site.
“Our latest housing accommodation needs assessment shows there is a need to develop a second site in the city.
“A number of families are residing in Swansea on unlawful and illegal sites and one of the ways to tackle this issue is to ensure they have a legal site for their homes.”
The meeting had heard a presentation from officers on the process that led to identifying five possible sites out of more than 1,000 council-owned plots — two in Gorseinon, one in Penderry, one in Fforestfach and one in Llansamlet.
Officers told councillors that after going through a check-list of more than 41 criteria, Fforestfach and Llansamlet were the most suitable.
But councillors were less than impressed with the process.
Llansamlet Labout councillor Bob Clay described the situation as a “mess”, while Lib Dem Cwmbwrla member Peter Black said he wanted to know how the new search would work and how long it would take, adding the people didn’t need 18 months of “consultation and procrastination.”
He said: “We have got to have a quick decision so the people of Swansea can get on with their lives.”
Campaigners welcomed the decision not to press ahead with the Fforestfach and Llansamlet options.
Tom Jenkins from Llansamlet said: “We are pleased at the vote but this is only a partial victory — the fight goes on.”
He added: “Where have the labour councillors been for the last year when they only now realise the process is flawed and the sites are inappropriate?”
Last week the Evening Post reported a leaked email from council leader David Phillips to Labour members which said he “significant and fundamental” concerns over where the new site should be.
Members of the cabinet left the chamber while tonght's amendment was debated.