An all-party group of councillors has been formed to discuss potential new sites for gypsy and traveller camps.

The working group was formed last week after Epsom Council sparked controversy earlier this year by not consulting all councillors on the issue.

The council announced at the start of the year that it was reviewing where new, permanent sites could be built within Epsom and Ewell - something the Government has said it must plan for.

But in February, heated public debate was ignited after one councillor revealed that a portion of Hook Road Arena and areas of scrubland around the smart Manor Park housing development were on the list, while the majority of Epsom’s councillors were unaware of the review altogether.

A shortlist of potential sites was due to go out to public consultation this spring but, following the controversy, the council announced this would now be delayed until September to allow a working group to form and to meet periodically to discuss site options.

In a report submitted as part of the council’s planning policy committee meeting last week, the council said: "Following discussions between members and officers it was agreed that further consideration needs to be given to this important issue prior to any public consultation on options.

"In order to provide members with an opportunity to discuss, engage and agree the issues surrounding the process, it is suggested that a working group be set up.

"The group will meet on at least three occasions, with a view to discussing and agreeing a position of the issues of need, site identification criteria and potential site options."

The members of the working group are: Residents’ Association councillors Michael Arthur, chairman of the planning policy committee; Neil Dallen; David Wood; Jan Mason; Clive Smitheram; Conservative councillor James Clarke, Lib Dem Colin Taylor and Labour councillor Rob Geleit.


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