Chris Philp, the Tory MP for Croydon South, has gone into full-on suburban Nimby mode, lodging formal objections to outline proposals to create a traveller and gypsy site at Purley Oaks.
Even the local dump in the MP’s true blue Purley heartland is too good for travellers, according to Philp.
Instead, he demands the council should create a site off the Purley Way, in either Waddon or Broad Green – both of which are Labour-held wards.
Croydon Council has a legal obligation to provide sufficient sites for travellers. Locations previously suggested under the Local Plan have all been rejected by Philp’s Conservative colleagues on the council because, although they have been away from residential areas and busy roads, they happened to be in Tory-voting wards.
Now Philp wants the council to build a traveller site in a business park. Waddon is the only Labour-held ward in his constituency.
The formal consultation period for the council’s Local Plan ends on Monday. The Local Plan has been in development for more than three years, with work on it beginning under the previous Conservative administration at the Town Hall.
Under the latest version of the Local Plan, the proposal is to provide a site for travellers at Purley Oaks, between the recycling centre and London to Brighton mainline railway.
Much of the Croydon Tories’ objections to the Local Plan have focused on traveller sites, including an online campaign which played to common prejudices, some of which have been openly expressed by senior figures in the Croydon Conservative Party, such as Anne Piles.
According to Philp, all that Tory scaremongering has worked.
“Many residents have wanted to know what can be done to stop the council’s proposal to build a traveller site at the Purley Oaks recycling centre,” Philp wrote this week. He doesn’t elaborate on what he means by “many”.
“I encourage anyone opposed to the site to let the council know your own reasons for opposing the site.”
Asking to be invited in to provide evidence on the Local Plan, Philp states, “Prior to this consultation there has been no public consultation on this site, putting local residents and businesses at a disadvantage… As an alternative, the Plan should look to use underused industrial sites… There are many vacant plots in the environs of the Purley Way and in places such as Commerce Way.”
The nearby Purley Way Playing Fields are an area frequently affected by illegal “visits” from local groups of travellers.
The councillors in Waddon are upset with the MP for putting their ward forward as an alternative at such a late stage in the process, without consulting them. While previous traveller site proposals have included land which is already publicly owned, Philp’s late suggestion may need a costly Compulsory Purchase Order, paid for out of public money, and would probably require established local businesses to find new homes.
“We feel that sites on the Purley Way should be preserved for local jobs,” the Waddon councillors said. “We also feel that the travellers’ site should be close to public services and shopping facilities for the people staying there.”
Comments on the Local Plan received will be reviewed by a government inspector at a public hearing. The consultation period ends on Monday evening, with emailed comments welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org
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