RESIDENTS must have a say in the location of proposed traveller sites in Monmouthshire.

That is what the Conservative representatives in the area are calling for ahead of consultations on the matter.

Proposals have been published for gypsy and traveller sites in Monmouth, Mitchel Troy, Magor and Undy.

All, the Tories say, backing on residential properties.

Monmouthshire County Council is aiming to provide for an unmet need of 13 gypsy and traveller households in the county.

Concerns have been raised by the Conservatives that the formal consultation, due to be triggered on July 26, is to be held over the summer period when "many families may be preoccupied with childcare or otherwise unable to fully participate and make their voices heard".

Although the plans have only just been published, the Conservatives claim that the council has "already consulted gypsy and traveller groups on the merits of each individual site".

Monmouth MP and secretary of state for Wales David Davies released a statement on the matter, in which he noted that the council was Labour-controlled three times.

He said: “It makes little sense why the Labour-controlled council wants to hold a consultation in August when some residents may not be able to take part.

“The problem with holding it in August is that swathes of families will be on holiday, meaning their voices will not be heard on this crucial issue.

“It is of fundamental importance that the people of Monmouthshire have their say on the Labour council’s plan because what is being proposed could lead to changes for residents.

“The Labour-controlled council needs to ensure a meaningful consultation with residents in these affected communities.”

Monmouth MS Peter Fox expressed similar concerns, also taking time to note that the council is Labour-run.

He said: “It is understood that the consultation will take place over the summer, but many people might be away during that period, which isn’t a very wise move.

“I know from experience that local people must have a say on important matters.

“The Labour-controlled council must heed our concerns.”

Cllr Richard John, leader of the opposition, made no mention of the Labour party in his statement.

He said: “I understand the council has a moral as well as a statutory responsibility to provide suitable pitches for the gypsy traveller community.

“The two sites in Mitchel Troy, on a narrow country lane and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are inappropriate for many reasons."

However, Cllr John did not go into more detail about those reasons.

The ward member for Mitchel Troy and Trellech United said that the the gypsy and traveller community "will not want to live immediately behind residential properties in such close proximity to the settled population".

“It’s doubtful that any of these sites would be deemed suitable for residential development, so nor should they be suitable for permanent gypsy traveller accommodation," he said.

"I think the council needs to go back to the drawing board.”