TRAVELLERS have called for more caravan pitches to be built in Basildon.

Regional planners recommend the district develops 81 new plots for people currently on illegal sites. However, travellers from Dale Farm, Crays Hill, claimed 101 are needed.

Campaigner Grattan Puxon said: "The result of the latest official caravan count by Basildon Council showed there were 132 unauthorised caravans."

Locals fear the travellers' representation will be given more weight than their own, after learning travellers held a meeting with the Government Office of the East of England, which was not open to settled residents.

David McPherson-Davis, Ramsden Crays Parish Council, is working on his own submission to the consultation.

He said: "I am concerned an unelected body imposed by Government appears to me to take onboard whatever the Gipsy Council requests and adopts it. They do not seem prepared to communicate with local communities as these private meetings show."

Richard Bennett, chairman of the Local Government Association task force on gipsies and travellers, said: "If I was approached by a parish council or settled residents I would be happy to discuss the issue."

To take part in the consultation visit