A PLANNING chief says Flintshire has more pitches for travellers than in the rest of North Wales put together.
The Shire Hall authority’s chief officer for planning and the environment Andrew Farrow was responding to criticism by a group travellers staying in Mold.
Josh Fiddler, who is currently living in one of 16 trailers at Maes Gwern on the town’s Broncoed Industrial Estate, said in 2006, Flintshire Council told his community they would build a site for them to live.
In 2007, the Leader reported Flintshire Council was thinking of providing travellers with a temporary site on land next to Spencer Industrial Park in Buckley.
Residents and councillors complained and eight years on, the site has not materialised.
But Mr Farrow said provisions in Flintshire for travellers outstripped that in other North Wales counties.
The county provides 66 pitches for travellers on authorised sites, 20 on council sites and more on privately owned sites.
He said a number of sites had either gained planning consent or were “in the pipeline”.
Mr Farrow stopped short of explaining why the mooted Buckley site had hit the skids, but launched an empassioned defence of the council’s record of catering for travellers.
The new and pending sites “demonstrates the council are prepared to, and have, engaged positively with the travelling community to consider appropriate sites,” he said.
“That’s far preferable to travellers taking matters into their own hands.
“The provision in Flintshire is greater than the total provision in all of the remaining local authorities in North Wales.”
The group of 16 trailers arrived at Maes Gwern on the Broncoed Industrial Estate a fortnight ago.
Mr Fiddler, 46, said his dream was for children in his family to go to school but, wi th no permanent site for them in the area, it was impossible.
Mr Farrow said Flintshire Council is one of five North Wales authorities covered by a joint Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment, which asked the traveller community to set out where new sites should be located.
“In response, sites along the primary travelling route in North Wales were referenced with Rhyl, Bangor, Colwyn Bay, and Holyhead the most referenced sites,” Mr Farrow added.
But reacting to Mr Farrow’s comments, Mr Fiddler said: “They’re trying to make it look as though we’re passing through. The ‘primary route’ they talk about is just the motorway out of Flintshire.
“We’re human beings. We want sites where we live – and we live in Flintshire.”
Mr Fiddler said the private sites mentioned were out of the question for his group.
“The people on those sites are just people who’ve got money, who can afford to buy land and build their own sites,” he said.
“We haven’t got a lot of money. We can’t afford those sites.”