HOPES that the Government would listen to residents of Epping Forest over plans for a wave of new gypsy and traveller sites in the district have finally been dashed.
Thousands of people registered their objections to the scale of the increase but their concerns were ignored by the Government who confirmed this week that the district will need to find space for
34 new pitches by 2010 bringing the total in the area to 128 by 2011.
Residents groups who raised thousands of pounds to fight the plans were united in anger as the news broke.
A spokeswoman for Theydon Bois Action Group said: “We submitted a response to the Secretary of State that included compelling evidence that the pitch provision for Epping Forest should be reduced
from 34 to 20.
“The Secretary of State seems to have over looked this data. The policy does not seem to contain any explanation why the district is required to provide such high percentage of pitches in the East
of England, and why the East of England has to make such a high provision nationally.”
The decision will leave the district with one of the highest densities of gypsy and traveller sites in the entire country.
Rob Gibson, spokesman for the Stewardstone Resident Action Group said: “I don't see how it can be fair when the way they have reached that figure for this district is based on nonsense.
"There's no science behind it and it's a sham. They can say what they like but that doesn't mean it won't be challenged.”
Mike Smith from the Waltham Abbey Resident Association added: “It's ludicrous. They have no understanding and there's no way the community can take this influx of people.
"We raised thousands of pounds and it's all for nothing because they haven't listened to us.”
The district council will now be left with the job of deciding where the pitches should be placed.
Marion Ruddigan who lives next door to a potential site in Epping said: “The whole thing is disgusting. I haven't felt myself for a year since I found out about this and I worry about it all the
time. It's such a stress.
"We were hoping the number would be reduced so that maybe a site won't be put in next to my home.”
A spokeswoman for the district council said: “We argued to reduce the figure even further to one which we felt was more appropriate, as the interest groups in our district would have liked.
“But this is a consultation by the regional government, overseen by the Government Department for Communities and Local Government, and at the end of the day, the final decision is issued by them.”