THE target for the number of Gypsy and Traveller sites the borough will be expected to provide has been cut by the Mayor of London.

Under new proposals, Barnet Council will only have to provide 16 sites by 2017 compared to the initial target of 22 put forward by Boris Johnson last year.

The move by the Mayor will cut the number of proposed sites across London from 538 to 238 after he admitted the original plans “could not be justified, nor achieved”.

The number of sites in the borough would still be the joint third highest in the city, with neighbouring boroughs of Harrow, Brent, Haringey and Enfield only sharing an allocation of 22 between them.

Staff working for the mayor said consultations on the draft London Plan “highlighted concerns about the methodology used to set the targets and raised serious doubts that they could be achieved”.

Previously, Barnet Council bosses claimed 22 sites would not be suitable for the borough.

The alterations have been branded “more realistic” and “fair” for all 33 boroughs, although Mr Johnson remains adamant he wants to improve the capital's poor record in delivering pitches fro the Gypsy and Traveller community.

He said: “In light of the feedback we received it was apparent that the targets we had proposed could not be justified, nor achieved.

“I want to make real progress in improving on the capital’s poor record in increasing the provision of sites for the Gypsy and Traveller communities, but there is no point setting targets that will clearly not be delivered.

“This is a complicated issue, with many factors to be taken into account, and I am confident that what I have put forward now strikes the right balance between deliverability and addressing need, and sets an ambitious agenda for all involved.”

The new proposals will now be subject to a further seven week public consultation before potentially becoming part of the full replacement plan preparation.

Councillor Merrick Cockell, Chairman of London Councils, said the announcement was “welcome” and shows Mr Johnson “is listening to the boroughs”.

He added: “These more realistic targets show the Mayor is responding to the boroughs’ legitimate concerns on this very sensitive issue.”