Page last updated at 16:28 GMT, Monday, 19 April 2010 17:28 UK

Row over travellers' site plans in Bedfordshire

Concerns over travellers' sites being proposed in North East Bedfordshire have been raised by candidates for the seat.

Bedford Borough Council is about to undertake a consultation on the number of pitches required, following the setting of targets by the government's East of England Regional Spatial Strategy.

Conservative candidate Alistair Burt said he opposed the plans.

He said: "The pitches needed in our area are not decided by locally elected councillors, but by a government quango, which has already increased the number of pitches that Bedford Borough had thought right for need and demand.

"This must stop. It is not a policy which is bringing communities closer together, quite the opposite.

"If a Conservative government is elected this policy will end, the numbers being proposed will be scrapped and councils will again be given proper responsibility for assessing them."

'Reputation not fair'

Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Pitt said: "There is a clear issue that needs careful handling. We do need to find sensible sites for travellers.

"We must talk to the travelling community and the static community in choosing a site."

He said the bad reputation of some travellers was "not fair" on them.

He added: "We need to go through the process sensibly."

Labour candidate Ed Brown said: "My view is that there needs to be provision in place for members of the travelling community, but it needs to be sensitive to local residents in the area.

"It is more a question of explaining what the issue is."

He called for the greatest possible consultation of local people.

He added: "The council has to make sure everyone has given their views."

The general election takes place on 6 May.

The candidates for North East Bedfordshire so far announced are: Conservative: Alistair Burt; Labour: Edward Brown; Lib Dem: Mike Pitt; BNP: Ian Seeby.

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