Action to remove travellers’ site is ‘unlikely to succeed’

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ENFORCEMENT action against an illegal travellers’ site in Gosberton Clough has been ruled out by South Holland District Council.

The authority says it would be unlikely to succeed in winning legal support from the courts to remove residents from the site on Broad Drove because officers have yet to find a suitable alternative.

Anita Brennan, South Holland’s housing manager, says the council is “devoting significant resources” towards finding an alternative site but it has proved “extremely difficult”.

Ms Brennan said: “SHDC understands the frustration of local residents living near the Broad Drove site and accepts that the current situation is unsatisfactory.

“The travellers themselves are equally keen to see progress towards finding them a new site and are in regular contact with SHDC officers.”

She added: “SHDC will continue to work with all parties concerned in reaching an effective and satisfactory conclusion to this matter.”

The alternative site would be the third and final site on the cards for South Holland after a need was identified for 15 permanent pitches and ten overnight stopping places in May 2006.

A permanent site was opened off the A151 in Holbeach earlier this year, while a temporary site is currently being established at Wingland, near Sutton Bridge.

Concerns about the ongoing situation in Gosberton Clough have been voiced in a letter from Gosberton Parish Council to the district council.

Councillors voted to write to the authority after being advised new families were moving on to the Broad Drove site, some of whom are believed to have come from the controversial Dale Farm in Essex.

Parish councillor Sue Thorley said: “The parish council is there to support the parishioners and I think it would like to urge South Holland District Council to certainly get moving again on trying to find a suitable site and will do everything it can.”

Coun Thorley said recent frustrations had been brought to a head by a retrospective planning application for a three-pitch gypsy and traveller site in Beck Bank, which is 600 yards away from the Broad Drove site.

“From a resident’s point of view, everyone is very worried that if South Holland pass Mrs Bower’s application, it’s going to open up the floodgates for any other traveller that wants to come and set up a site in Gosberton Clough.

“They’re not going to be able to say no. It’s setting a precedent.”

As reported in last Tuesday’s Lincolnshire Free Press, South Holland’s planning committee spent more than an hour trying to decide whether to allow the Beck Bank site, which is home to the Bower family.

However, it finally deferred the application for a site visit after several councillors spoke out about the cumulative effect of the nearby Broad Drove site.

It is not the only application to be considered for the village in recent months, with a separate gypsy pitch in Short Drove given planning permission in June.