Gypsy award decision due

Ministers are expected to announce shortly locations for new and refurbished sites for Gypsies and travellers under a three-year scheme worth £97 million.

The East of England is expected to get around a third of the cash - £28 million - with just under a fifth, £17 million, likely to go to the South East.

Communities minister Iain Wright had been due to announce the winning bids from local authorities this week but the decision is now expected next month.

The grant scheme aims to create homes for up to 25,000 Gypsies and travellers and reduce the problem of illegal camps, which can lead to costly evictions.

Regional allocations outlined in the DCLG's guidance show that the South West is expected to receive £14 million, the East Midlands £9.5 million and the West Midlands £7.5 million. London, the North West and Yorkshire and Humber will be given £6 million each, while £3 million is allocated for the North East.

Local authorities are obliged to identify appropriate sites in their local plans according to the need in their areas. Brighton and Hove City and Milton Keynes Councils are each asking for almost £2 million to build large sites while South Norfolk Council wants £250,000 to help Gypsies establish a number of smaller sites.

The January 2006 count revealed that there are more than 15,500 Gypsy and traveller caravans across England, with 14 per cent of them established on unauthorised sites.

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