Councils still at odds over Holbeach travellers’ site

BOSSES at two councils are still at odds over the cost of land for a travellers’ site in Holbeach, as the saga over the land continues to rumble on.

At last week’s South Holland District Council meeting leader Gary Porter revealed a deal is still to be reached between the authority and Lincolnshire County Council, which owns the land on the A151 link road where a ten-pitch site has been built.

In March we revealed that the county council had put a £400,000 price tag on the land – which was ten times the amount an independent valuer had suggested it was worth when asked by the district council.

When quizzed by Coun Angela Newton, Coun Porter said that the county council has now come back with a “considerably lower” valuation – but one that is still above the District Valuer’s original estimate.

Coun Porter said: “As far as I am concerned the price being requested is still not acceptable and is considerably higher than what is in the estimate.

“We have been given no acceptable reason why we should be considering moving.”

The county council say its new figure is a compensation claim based on talks with the same District Valuer.

However the district council wants the District Valuer to confirm how he came to his original cost and why his position appears to have changed.

County head of strategic asset management Jim Hogg said: “LCC has negotiated a revised value with the District Valuer who, acting on behalf of SHDC, has recommended it to them.

“We therefore hope that they can now accept this.

“LCC has to act in the best interests of the taxpayer and must consequently ensure that we receive the correct entitlement of compensation; realistically, this should not only include the valuation of the piece of land itself, but any knock-on impact to value of the wider area.

“We therefore believe that the current valuation is fair and hope that the matter can be finalised as soon as possible.”

The district council was given a £1.7million budget by the Government to set up three camps to cater for travellers in South Holland and costs at Holbeach have so far reached almost £1million.

The council was due to appoint a contractor to carry out work at another site in Wingland (Sutton Bridge) but has put those plans on hold while the Holbeach wrangle is sorted. It is still looking for “willing seller of land” for a third site.

Coun Porter said: “We are a little closer to a settlement but to be quite honest we are nowhere near a position where I would say it will be sorted in a couple of weeks.”