A WORCESTERSHIRE politician who is the grandson of a Romany Gypsy is calling for a "chronic shortage" of traveller sites to be resolved.

UKIP MEP James Carver says he wants to speak out despite being advised it would be "political suicide".

Mr Carver says too many councils are spending money on evicting traveller groups instead of creating more pitches for them.

He insists tensions around the issue and costly evictions could be avoided if there was a serious effort to accommodate them.

He also says "nimbyism" and "scare stories" have stopped the matter being taken more seriously in the past.

Mr Carver's paternal grandmother was a Romany Gypsy, with her place of birth on her birth certificate reading as 'a caravan' in Dartford, Kent.

He said: "I make absolutely no apology for who I am and where I come from.

"By virtue of my belief that I'm the only elected British parliamentarian from a Romany background, I’m proud to use my unique position to highlight and challenge public misconceptions surrounding the very real problems facing our traveller communities in modern-day Britain.

"What is more, as a UKIP politician, for me to be saying this should hopefully draw better attention to this subject than what you’d expect to hear from the usual quarters."

He has urged decision-makers to follow the example of Leeds Gate, a body which has secured charitable status and works with developers and council chiefs to create more pitches.

"This should be an example of how to address this issue, to everyone’s benefit, rather than hiding behind the usual nimbyism and scare stories," he said.

Worcester News:

"If this should turn into an act of political suicide as suggested then so be it."

It comes after several incidents of travellers trespassing onto land in recent months, including Pitmaston Park, Worcester Woods Country Park and sites off Hylton Road.

In the last two years they have also stopped on a site belonging to the University of Worcester off Pitchcroft known as The Moors, Perdiswell playing fields, land off Broomhall Way in St Peter's and the grounds of St Egwin's C of E Middle School in Worcester Road, Evesham.

Worcester News:

Other sites included the university's Henwick Road campus and various unauthorised locations in Stourport.

Council chiefs have pointed to the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP), a planning blueprint which earmarks land for 35 new pitches by 2019.

Another 20 are expected to be created and split across Worcester's two 'super villages' south and west of the city, and more elsewhere subject to consultation.

There are already 20 pitches for travellers now off Offerton Lane, near Sixways, while Malvern has 22 and Wychavon 193.

Worcester News:

But the traveller community has regularly cited a lack of room on the existing sites, especially during the summer periods.

A statement on behalf of all three district councils in Worcester, Malvern and Wychavon said: "There is a Government requirement for councils to identify locations that can be used to provide residential pitches for travellers and travelling show-people, and to ensure enough pitches exist to meet the level of need for at least the next five years.

"Malvern, Worcester and Wychavon councils have included policies in the SWDP for how suitable sites will be selected.

"The councils are now working together on a document that will allocate specific sites to be used over the next five years, including 35 new pitches by April 2019, and which will also look ahead to the following 10 years."