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Plan to sell travellers sites in West Sussex
Council officials plan to privatise their traveller sites.
West Sussex County Council is to begin consultation into proposals to sell off 113 plots for gypsies or travellers that it currently owns.
The ten sites had been costing the council £150,000 a year until a recent restructuring of the system which reduced costs by two-thirds.
They could be taken over by another local authority, housing association, community group or even a private firm.
Traveller groups argued that current residents at the site should get first option of a right-to-buy on their pitches.
They also said that the move was likely to be unpopular among the traveller community and that they feared rents would rise under new owners.
It is thought that the council is ideally looking for one organisation to take on all ten sites.
Last night a council spokesman said that due to commercial sensitivity the amount of money anticipated to be raised from the sale would not be released.
The council believes the proposal is viable aftermeeting with six interested organisations to discuss how they would run and manage the sites.
Traveller groups and councils will be consulted on the plans over the next two months and further work will be carried out with interested parties.
The results of the consultation will be revealed at a council meeting on September 27.
Maggie Smith-Bendell, a Romany Gypsy liaison officer and National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups member, said travellers should be given the opportunity to buy the pitches before they were offered to another company.
She said: “They should be offered in the same way as council houses and I think you would see the appearance of the sites improve because people would have pride in their own property.
“Travellers will be afraid to speak out against the proposals because they are worried that they will have a black mark against them and will become homeless.
“These companies will be looking to make a profit and many of these sites will need money invested in them and so themoney will have to be raked back from somewhere.