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Does your village welcome gypsies?

Parish councils eager to impress in this year's Village of the Year competition have raised concerns about a new question on whether they welcome gypsies, travellers and other ethnic minorities.

Helmdon, Radway and Adderbury are among the villages which have enjoyed success in previous competitions.

Adderbury parish councillor Keith Mitchell, who is also leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said:

"The attitude towards travellers or ethnic minorities isn't the biggest issue in a village. How we look after the elderly or children are bigger issues. I think the competition is about pride of place. It's about people caring for the community and efforts made to make villages cohesive and pleasurable places to live."

Helmdon Parish Council clerk Sarah Smith said: "We will continue to take part in the competition as long as we feel comfortable with it.

"Personally I don't think the question about travellers has anything to do with the competition unless they explain otherwise."

Andrew Ford of the competition's sponsor, Calor, said. The question was a misprint.

"If councils are concerned they need to positively welcome travellers to be considered for an award that's not true. We have said we will disregard any answer to the question," he said.

The deadline for the Village of the Year competition is June 27. The closing date for the Best Kept Village contest is Monday.

The Banbury Guardian - 31st March 2005

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