Councillors could not agree why they wanted to refuse gypsies’ planning application

The Beck Bank site.
The Beck Bank site.
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A TRAVELLING family who want to return to their South Holland roots have had their future put on hold after councillors failed to agree on whether they should be allowed to stay.

A TRAVELLING family who want to return to their South Holland roots have had their future put on hold after councillors failed to agree on whether they should be allowed to stay.

Opposition continues to this illegal site in Broad Drove.

Opposition continues to this illegal site in Broad Drove.

The Bowers have spent almost a year tidying up and moving on to a former garage site in Beck Bank, Gosberton Clough.

However, fierce opposition to an illegal site a couple of miles away in Broad Drove meant South Holland District Council’s planning committee struggled to make a final decision on whether to retrospectively change the use of the land at the Bowers’ home.

Councillors refused to accept recommendations to grant permission for the three gypsy and traveller pitches but could not agree a reason why.

The land off Beck Bank is currently home to Harriet (64), Charlotte (40), Tom (36), Sharon (34), Tom (13), Shannon (10) and Charlotte (2).

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Bower said: “We just want to have a family site; me, my mum, my sister, my wife and kids. When we first got there people thought we were going to make a site of it but then I explained and we’ve had no complaints.”

Mr Bower said the family want to settle in Gosberton Clough because of his mum.

“She was born in Spalding,” he explained. “She wanted to come back.

“It also saves me travelling about 40 miles a day for work, especially when we start to get bad weather.”

He added: “Obviously we were going to get complaints but you cannot tar everyone with the same brush. Broad Drove has nothing to do with us. We just want to keep ourselves to ourselves.”

At the meeting on Wednesday, planning manager Paul Jackson warned councillors the application must be decided on its own merit.

He said valid reasons were needed to refuse the application, or councillors could face losing an appeal.

Councillors spent an hour-and-a-half debating the issue before voting to defer.

Coun Rodney Grocock said he felt residents living in and around Gosberton Clough deserved “a bit of respite” from gypsy and traveller sites.

Coun Chris Brewis said the application, along with the illegal site and another small legal site, led to a cumulative effect on “one of the smallest communities we have got”.

Coun Rita Rudkin said she had experience of travellers in Holbeach, who now have a legal site off the A151: “That one family turned out to be rather large and unexpected things have happened as a consequence.”

Fears of creating a precedent were raised by Coun Bob Creese. He said: “It will come back to haunt us and we need to address it.”

However, Coun Howard Johnson said the work the Bower family had done had improved the site. He also said the location was suitable for a family.

He added: “The issue here is Broad Drove.”

Mr Jackson, addressing concerns about the Broad Drove site, said it had “taken much longer than anticipated” to sort out but was the “main focus of the council at this time”.

A call to grant the application was lost six votes to two.

Coun Brewis suggested it be refused on local and cumulative impact on a small community and a loss of residential amenity but his fellow councillors did not step up to support it.

Instead, ten councillors voted in favour of a site visit.