TRAVELLERS have finally been able to move on to the new £1million site in Holbeach – eight months after it was finished.
The site off the A17/A151 link road has been sitting empty since October while South Holland District Council and Lincolnshire County Council wrangled over the price of the land.
The two authorities still haven’t agreed on a price for the freehold of the land, with the council county initially demanding around £400,000 but the district valuer saying the site is only worth £40,000.
However, on Friday travellers who have been living at the illegal site at Cranmore Lane since 2004 were finally able to move on to the new site.
The operation, which was overseen by district council officers, took several hours and involved moving some static caravans on low loaders.
Anita Brennan, head of housing for the district council, said negotiations are still ongoing between the two authorities but licences have been issued for all ten pitches, allowing occupation of the site.
She said: “The planning was day-to-day and we didn’t know the move was going to happen until a day or so before.
“We had to wait for the detail of the licences to be agreed before the move could happen. Once they were signed early last week it happened very quickly.
“We didn’t move the travellers, they moved themselves. We were just there to ensure everything went smoothly, which it did.”
Travellers need a licence to live on the site and have to adhere to certain terms and conditions.
Each licence allows up to three caravans on the pitch, but at the moment the site is not at full capacity.
Ms Brennan added: “The travellers were keen to move on to the new site and are very pleased with the facilities there.
“There is now no-one living on the Cranmore Lane site and one of the key things for us was to secure it.
“We’ve blocked the entrances with heavy duty shipping containers and there is natural protection thanks to dykes running around the perimeter.
“We can do as much as is reasonable to prevent future occupation of the site but can’t guarantee it.
“In the next couple of weeks we will be looking at securing the site further, probably by using concrete bollards to stop vehicular access.”
At the moment there are no long-term plans for the site but this is something the council will start to look at shortly.
Meanwhile, Howard Huett, of Northons Lane, which is near the new site, said he would have paid for a judicial review if he had known the problems that the council was going to have in the past years.
He said: “This does leave a nasty taste. I think you have got to look at it from the point of view of ‘it’s our money, has it been spent wisely?’
“I don’t think so.”