THE setting up of potential new Gypsy and traveller sites has been scrapped by a town following consultation.

Stockton’s councillors have approved a cabinet recommendation that the existing process to earmark land for caravans in the borough be sent back to the drawing board.

They also agreed a recommendation that the council seek the Secretary of State’s consent for the Gypsy and traveller planning document to follow on from the adoption of its overall Local Plan.

After talking to the travelling community, Stockton council calculated there was a need for 26 pitches and identified six possible sites: Roddmere, Yarm Back Lane, Stockton; Frederick Street, Stockton; the area between Bowesfield Crescent and the River Tees, Stockton; Mill Lane, Billingham; Eltham Crescent, Thornaby and the area between the River Tees and Thornaby Road, Thornaby.

However, the proposals met with a hostile response from the public with a total of 565 individuals objecting together with four petitions signed by almost 850 people plus a letter of objection supported by 55 neighbours.

Many members of the Gypsy and traveller communities also said they did not want to live in such urban areas.

Council leader, Councillor Bob Cook said: “We are going to go right back to the beginning and do the needs assessment from scratch so we can be absolutely sure how many pitches we need and have more discussions with the travelling community."

He added: “This has been one of the most talked about topics in recent years. The level of public interest has been phenomenal and I hope that by making this decision it shows that when we ask people for their views, we do listen and take everything into account.”