• Author:Ben Jones
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Weekly News- Tories slam Halton Council Gypsy and Travellers site business plan

HALTON’S Conservatives have slammed the council’s handling of Runcorn’s Traveller site finances.
They have warned that low pitch prices risk haemorrhaging council cash and increase the likelihood of council tax payers footing the bill.

The Tory councillors have demanded a new business plan to prevent ‘sky high’ increases in council tax.
In December they said a 50% site overspend could be followed by more cash losses.

Ben Jones, Conservative prospective candidate for Halton, said: “Some months ago Halton’s ruling Labour group refused to rule out the need for local residents to subsidise this site in the future, despite the fact that the Government plainly states that sites should pay for themselves.

“It is very disturbing that despite clear indications that the site is not presently meeting its targets to operate on a cost neutral basis, the Labour Party response is to avoid the difficult decision of addressing this matter now.”

A council spokeswoman said an early review would risk error and Travellers are being monitored.
She said: “The Traveller community is becoming more aware of the new transit site in Runcorn and occupancy has risen very quickly, with only two plots now vacant. “The site is part of a wider strategy to discourage trespassing on land. Since we opened the site there have only been two illegal incursions in Halton, which were dealt with immediately. This action would have been very difficult if the transit site had not been operational.

“In addition, it has avoided the unnecessary expense associated with managing the Traveller community – estimated at more than £100,000 a year in the past – and has reduced anti-social behaviour.” A site report will be released in June.