A PUBLIC consultation has been launched on proposed council-owned sites for possible use as Gypsy and Traveller pitches for local families in need of a permanent place to live. 

The issue has seen protests over previously proposed pitches at Monmouth’s Manson Heights near the Buckholt village hall and Mitchell Troy Common before those sites were withdrawn as inappropriate.

It also led to a storm over a Conservative leaflet, with Monmouth MP and Welsh Secretary David Davies reported to police by advocate group Travelling Ahead for alleged “dog whistle actions” against travellers, only for officers to rule there was no evidence of “discrimination”.

There is also criticism of the currently proposed sites, which are all in the Severnside region of the county, with Portskewett Tory councillor Lisa Dymock saying Monmouthshire Council appeared to be plucking sites out of “thin air” without thorough assessment.

Following on from an MCC Cabinet proposal, the six-week public consultation is aimed at giving people the chance to provide feedback on two proposed sites near Caldicot and one at Magor.

Rresidents can attend public drop-in sessions at Church Hall, Portskewett, on November 22 from 4-7pm and at Magor and Undy Community Hub on November 23 between 4-7pm to find out more about the council’s obligations and considerations.

Further drop-in sessions are also planned for the Gypsy and Traveller community.

Additional information on the public drop-in sessions is available on the website.

Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development, Cllr Paul Griffiths (Labour, Chepstow Castle and Larkfield), said: “The public consultation will allow residents, businesses, local stakeholders and the Gypsy and Travelling community an opportunity to voice their opinion on the proposed sites... I would urge everyone to read the information that will be available.”

But the two sites near Caldicot have been branded “inappropriate” by critics, due to overdevelopment concerns in the Severnside area and road safety fears. 

Bradbury Farm and Oak Grove Farm were put forward after the Mitchel Troy Common and Monmouth sites were dropped. 

The Bradbury Farm site is located on the northern perimeter of the farm in the Portskewett ward, while the Oak Grove Farm site is situated on land alongside Severn Farm in Leechpool, Portskewett. 

A third site is also under consideration at Langley Close near to the M4 in Magor. 

Cllr Dymock said: “The county has 200,000 acres, yet the Labour-led administration is proposing the only suitable sites are all within the Severnside area...

“Incorrectly identifying Portskewett ward as Caldicot East is misleading and it is disappointing the council cannot accurately pinpoint a site location. They seem thoroughly confused.”

See www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/gypsy-and-travellers/ for more information.