Villages ward councillor Reece Pugh has raised a petition asking Thanet council to remove Potten Street car park at St Nicholas and land at Shottendane Road in Margate from proposals for temporary Traveller sites on the isle due to road safety fears.
Cllr Pugh says neither site is a safe area for children because both are on very busy roads and would be placing people at risk .
He said: “Travellers need a temporary site but there are so any better places.
“These sites are not safe. The car park is horrendous for traffic, trucks use it and so do the police. It is not a space for people to live on, even temporarily.
“The same goes for Shottendane Road unless it is going to be widened for access. We do need sites but if we are going to put people in such unsafe areas what is the point? If a little kid wanders into those roads and gets hit and killed by a car the council will have blood on its hands.”
In December approval was given for further work to assess Potten Street in St Nicholas-at-Wade, Tivoli Brook in Margate and Ramsgate Port for use as temporary tolerated stopping sites.
But both Ramsgate Port and Tivoli Brook were then removed from the plans and land off Shottendane Road was added without any meeting by the working group responsible for assessing the sites.
Tivoli Brook was removed due to “the potential commercial development and the opportunity it creates for income generation and employment,” while Ramsgate Port was scrapped from the proposals because it is “presently undergoing a feasibility study and the proposed area is in use for the storage of cars and is returning a revenue, it is also an industrialised area and not suited to families and young children.”
Cllr Pugh says this was done without due process and without any input from the working group.
He added: “We need more than one temporary site so if we only have two going forward they will be approved with no scope for consultation.
“St Nicholas-at Wade Parish Council submitted a petition against the proposal at Potten Street six months ago but it was very quickly disregarded.
“It is a real problem that these decisions are being taken without consulting councillors, parish councils and the public.”
The aim is to use the sites on a rotation basis to alleviate the issue of unauthorised camps on the isle. Thanet currently does not have an authorised Traveller site, with the nearest being in Canterbury and Dover.
Unauthorised encampments at sites including Dane Valley, Marina Esplanade, Government Acre and the car park by Dreamland have risen sharply from two in 2013 to more than 55 last year.
Cabinet members had been expected to discuss the use of Potten Street and council-owned land off Shottendane at a meeting last month but due to some incorrect paperwork the item was postponed until the next meeting, expected to be on August 19.
Cllr Pugh says consultation cannot be extended to the people who will be living in the 450 proposed houses at Shottendane and points out that agricultural land also provides revenue.
He said there were better options on the original list of 12 sites and says Ramsgate Port and Tivoli Brooks should be reconsidered.
He said: “For the majority of the year the Port of Ramsgate is empty, there is a dual carriageway and the tunnel for access. Facilities can be provided there. The argument is that the cars being parked there provide revenue but the Port has not provided revenue for the last 10 years.”
Thanet council deputy leader Helen Whitehead, who is also responsible for housing strategies, said: “We have both a legal and a moral duty to plan for temporary tolerated sites, and it is an area of high priority.
“All of our community deserves appropriate housing, and these sites have been put forward for consideration; any necessary works to sites will be fully factored in to any decisions in relation to sites. Communities and interested parties are more than welcome to contact me, as is Councillor Pugh.
“Formal discussion of these sites with communities will be happening, and I welcome any feedback in relation to the sites. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org “
The petition, launched today (August 6) asks Thanet council to conduct a more thorough search and assessment for sites; remove both Potten Street car park and the land at Shottendane Road; compile a list of proposed sites that are safe for occupants and the public and to prioritise the use of brownfield land for new sites.
Temporary tolerated pitches are when unauthorised encampments stay for an agreed amount of time. The council says this means smoother enforcement is easier on those unauthorised encampments which chose to ignore the direction and stay on other land.
A temporary tolerated site also allows easier management of amenities such as waste collection and toilet provision, reducing the impact on the local area.