FURIOUS residents have slammed the council for not carrying out a legal duty to provide legal traveller sites in and around Rayleigh.

It comes as a senior councillor is calling to stop a consultation into four new proposed sites altogether.

Ian Ward, councillor for planning at Rochford District Council, wants any further discussion terminated and the planned consultation withdrawn.

Council bosses identified sites in Madrid Avenue, Rayleigh, Greenacres, Hawkwell and two sites – including Rayleigh Golf Range - in Chelmsford Road, Rayleigh for travellers and gypsies.

Richard Lambourne, member of the Rayleigh Action Group, said residents want to know what the council is doing on the issue.

He said: “The council has a duty to provide the sites and has done nothing. It has been working on this for at least a year and it’s all become late.

“Rochford District Council is falling behind in its obligation and that is why travellers are pitching up illegally.

“If the council provided appropriate legal traveller pitches, we would not have the issues that we experience when they pitch up illegally, such as antisocial behaviour.”

Former Liberal Democrat councillor, James Newport said it’s unfair on the community the issue has not been resolved.

He said: “It seems there’s an issue with the sites in the consultation so the council has no option but to withdraw it. It is causing residents distress and alarm as they are uncertain how it could affect them.”

Mr Ward added: “I take the view there is a need for further work to be carried out to fully understand the need for traveller pitches in the district and I will therefore be urging the council to withdraw the consultation document.”

He said some of the sites being considered are involved, or thought to be involved in other planning processes.

A Rochford District Council spokesman said the existing approach for traveller site provision has to date been ineffective.

The council added that at a meeting on February 19 council members will decide how they wish to proceed, or if they feel further work is required.