A £1.8 million budget limit has been announced for plans to build a 13-pitch traveller site on the Lower Bristol Road in Bath.
Officers were asked by the Cabinet over the past 24 hours to conduct a more detailed assessment of the potential costs for the Lower Bristol Road travellers site.
The current projected spend for the project is £1.8 million and this is the limit which has now been set by the Cabinet.
Last week Conservative councillors slammed the Council after they revealed that the project could have costed around £2.5 million to complete.
Conservatives questioned why the amount of money needed to deliver the project was so high, and have argued that if the Liberal Democrats had a better grip on the cost then some of the cash could be used for other capital projects such as highway maintenance, road safety schemes or affordable housing.
B&NES Conservative Group Leader, Cllr Tim Warren, said: “I think residents will question why the costs of this project are escalating so much. The previous £1.8 million figure was already a large amount of money to be spending on this, and we had been assured by the Lib Dems that this price tag would come down if the Council could secure a Government grant towards the cost.
“Of course the Council has a responsibility to identify suitable land which can be used as traveller sites, and the Lower Bristol Road site clearly needs to be formalised and brought up to a proper living standard as soon as possible.
“But councillors also have a duty to ensure that taxpayers’ money is being spent prudently, and if the cost of this project were kept down then the money could be used for other capital projects such as highway maintenance, road safety schemes or affordable housing.
“We are therefore urging B&NES to drill down into these costs as the current price £2.5 million, or nearly £200,000 per traveller pitch, seems exceptionally high.”
A Bath and North East Somerset Council spokesman said: “This area urgently needs Gypsy/ Traveller Pitches. The current plans for Lower Bristol Road would provide 13 pitches. To deliver this site, planning consent is needed.
“Part of the application will require measures to reduce noise coming from the site and safe highways access. In respect of the land, this is Council owned.
“If these measures are not delivered, it is unlikely the 13 pitch site would be able to go ahead. Reasons for providing travellers sites include:
- Over the past 10 years, there have been around 20 unauthorised Gypsy and Traveller sites across the district. In some cases, this has resulted in:
- Concerns expressed by local people and communities in which unauthorised sites have appeared due to their impact on the environment;
- Costs incurred by the local taxpayer in relation to monitoring of the unauthorised site, clean-up when the travellers have left, and planning expenditure.
“Once the Council has allocated land for pitches and facilities are in place, we will have a firm basis upon which to take robust enforcement action on unauthorised sites.
“Improved facilities on authorised sites will result in an improved local environment and more orderly surroundings compared with unauthorised sites.”