A traveller site is set to be expanded in a country park despite concerns about potential damage to green belt space.

Barking and Dagenham Council last night (23 May) approved plans to extend the existing Gypsy and Traveller site at Eastbrookend Country Park.

This will deliver 12 out of the 25 pitches for Gypsies and Travellers, people with protected status, under the council's local plan.

Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham, joined Ben Suter, deputy chairman for Dagenham and Rainham Conservatives in opposing the move.

In a letter to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Mr Suter said some local people had said the expansion would endanger protected species in the park.

“This shows a total disregard for the people of Dagenham,” he said. “It is nothing to do with the travellers themselves, it is all to do with protecting a green belt space.”

Gypsies and Travellers face an acute housing crisis in London, according to London Gypsies and Travellers, a group that aims to tackle social exclusion and discrimination.

IN OTHER NEWS: Konchesky wants winning finish for West Ham Women

Lack of pitches on local authority sites and draconian eviction powers have made it difficult for many to go on the road and maintain their traditional way of life, the group said.

Both Mr Suter and Mr Cruddas said they were concerned about a lack of consultation in the council's decision making.

But a spokesperson for London Gypsies and Travellers said the expansion plan has been subject to consultation twice, in 2019 and 2021.