COUNCILLORS have agreed to move forward to consultation on a series of proposed additional sites for gypsies and travellers.

West Dorset District Council's executive committee agreed to go out to consultation on the new sites put forward by consultants Peter Brett Associates who have been looking at the provision of sites across the county since 2010.

Councillors were told that the new sites put forward, which included five in West Dorset, were being proposed alongside those sites originally suggested in the first consultation exercise in 2012.

The new sites include the former Army camp at Wyke Regis and land between the Piddlehinton Industrial Estate and the B3143 Referred to as the Former Guard House.

Local member for Piddlehinton Jacqui Cuff made it clear that the community of Piddlehinton would be strongly opposed to any additional site there, particularly as there was already one permanent and one temporary site in operation in the village.

She said: “I want to make it clear that Piddle Valley Parish Council, businesses at the Piddlehinton Industrial Estate and residents of Piddlehinton and the Piddle Valley are vehemently opposed to any further sites being at Piddlehinton.”

Council leader Robert Gould was keen to point out that moving forward to consultation on these sites did not signify any support from the authority for any of the sites proposed.

He said: “This is a long process and it's a joint effort between all the planning authorities in the county.

“It's an important piece of work and it's important to progress it.”

Cllr Gould added: “I think it's important to make it absolutely clear that the approval for further consultation in no way signifies our particular support or otherwise for any of these sites.

“Members will make a decision on these sites in due course.”

Cllr Alan Thacker added: “We are only proposing looking at this process and not agreeing to anything.

“The public do have an opportunity to be consulted and put their points of view across on all of these sites.”

Members were told that if the move to consultation is supported by all partner authorities, there is likely to be an eight week consultation process.