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Swansea Council chief denies claims in Gypsy site shortlist row

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: October 26, 2012

Jack Straw

Jack Straw

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LLANSAMLET was not added to a shortlist of potential sites for travellers by any council officers, the authority's chief executive has said.

The announcement by Jack Straw comes after five serving and former councillors signed a statement to say the area had been added to a shortlist they had drawn up, shortly before they were due to visit each site to consider their suitability.

Swansea Council strongly rejected any suggestion a council officer had added Llansamlet to the list drawn up by the Task and Finish group, set up in March 2010 to evaluate suitable sites for Gypsies and travellers and make recommendations to the authority.

Mr Straw said: "It is inaccurate to suggest that council officers added any sites to the shortlist. Members of the Task and Finish group were fully aware of the potential sites during every stage of the selection process.

"The group began with a list of 1,006 potential sites and whittled these down by using the agreed criteria for assessing sites. In March 2012 the group shortlisted five sites and the following month they visited those five sites only."

The Task and Finish group is made up of elected members, and earlier this year set out to visit five sites which they had shortlisted. But last week, five members of the group put their names to a statement which read: "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.

"We expressed our disapproval to the officers... 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.

It was not clear from the councillors exactly how many sites were on the list they were given to visit. But the same month as the site visit the Evening Post reported five sites had been visited — Heol y Mynydd in Gorseinon, the former greyhound stadium in Cockett ward, Milford Way in Penderry, Parc Melin Mynach in Gorseinon and land at the eastern gateway to Swansea Vale in Llansamlet.

Councillors Colburn and Matthews, who still serve on the council, declined to comment further. But former councillor John Hague said: "We made a decision what the sites would be, and Llansamlet was not on the list. I am adamant about that." And former councillor June Evans added: "Llansamlet was not on the shortlist. I do not know who put it on there, but somebody did."

Former Clydach councillor Roger Smith said he believed Llansamlet was on a shortlist, and that he had added his name to last week's statement on the understanding it referred to Llansamlet being on the list of sites they were due to visit that day. He said: "Llansamlet had been discussed, but it was not scheduled to be visited that day."

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  • tannkerboy  |  October 27 2012, 1:15AM

    JACK STRAW WHY NOT WERE YOU LIVE ? TELL US WHY, THEY DON'T PAY TAXES ,The goverment say take care of the travlers forget the welsh, up you .

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  • tannkerboy  |  October 27 2012, 1:11AM

    JACK STRAW WHY NOT IN YOUR PLACE ?, TELL US

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  • GSVale  |  October 27 2012, 12:07AM

    "Who are Gypsies and travellers? Press reports have referred to travellers who have been on a specific site for a number of years. How many are there and why is so much money spent on them? Many years ago they were itinerant farm workers but how do they earn money now?" I am at a total loss why they are called travellers, the caravans on the legal and illegal sites are concreted to the ground with tarmaced drive ways. Once they are on a site, they never travel anywhere. Why they throw money at them is another mystery, I would like a free shower block with free hot water. It's no wonder the council have turned half the street lights off around the Park and ride area, the cables running from the street lights to the caravans are draining all the power. As for earning money, well there is a kind of unwritten rule with the businesses around the enterprise park. If it's not nailed, glued, welded, riveted, chained, padlocked, roped down and placed under armed guard. It will be gone by the morning.

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  • chelsea1955  |  October 26 2012, 10:22PM

    Whose back pocket is getting lined in greenbacks

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  • shonis  |  October 26 2012, 5:58PM

    Who are Gypsies and travellers? Press reports have referred to travellers who have been on a specific site for a number of years. How many are there and why is so much money spent on them? Many years ago they were itinerant farm workers but how do they earn money now? So many questions but few answers. One of the well known spokeswoman for these groups who spoke at the UN in favour of them was later convicted of organised benefit fraud.

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  • GorsseinonJoe  |  October 26 2012, 10:44AM

    Fantastic communications between the Council and it's current and former Councillors! How did 5 people get the impression that Llansamlet had been added to the list and who was the person or persons liaising between Mr Straw and the gang of 5? Not a good start to an issue that will be controversial in the coming months. Does anyone know the difference in the two sites in Gorseinon? To me it's the same site with two different entrances, both on the land opposite Penyrheol Comp. school or the Toyoda site. If this is the case does Gorseinon have twice as many chances of getting a "Gypsy" site, meaning the short list is actually four not five shortlisted sites?

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