Decision on travellers’ site likely next week

MP John Hayes met opponents of the proposed gypsy and traveller site in Drain Bank North earlier this year. SG240114-157TW
MP John Hayes met opponents of the proposed gypsy and traveller site in Drain Bank North earlier this year. SG240114-157TW
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MP John Hayes says Cowbit residents must have the “defining say” when councillors meet next week to decide controversial plans for a gypsy and traveller site.

South Holland District Council wants to move travellers from an unauthorised camp in Broad Drove, Gosberton Clough, to a six acre site off Drain Bank North, between Spalding and Cowbit.

There will be pitches for up to 30 caravans if it gets the go-ahead from South Holland’s planning committee on Wednesday, May 7.

Earlier this year, around 500 people – nearly a third of Cowbit residents – signed a petition opposing the plan, claiming land earmarked is unsuitable because of flood risk, use of septic tanks, transport issues, a shortage of primary school places and effects on wildlife.

Cowbit resident Gary Hudson said human waste could be carried into a drain where otters have been seen because of the risks of on-site flooding and septic tanks overflowing.

Mr Hudson said: “Drain Bank North is a very narrow road, with no footpath and the A16 on one side of it where people have been killed trying to get to Spalding.”

The South Holland and The Deepings MP says any site chosen for travellers from Gosberton Clough “must be suitable and must be agreeable to local people”.

He said: “We are not short of open spaces in South Holland, are we?”

The cost will be met from a £1.753million Government pot to provide three travellers’ sites in South Holland – two for permanent residence and a transitory site for travellers passing through.

A permanent site in Holbeach cost £1,075,834, leaving just £638,682 for the other two.

Land at Centenary Way, Wingland, was earmarked for the transitory site, but that’s been taken off the council forward planning list and Sutton Bridge councillor Michael Booth hopes the transitory spaces will be included at Drain Bank North.

Coun Booth said there’s already a transitory site three miles away in Norfolk and Centenary Way has too many heavy lorries posing a potential danger to children on a site that’s screened by trees.

Council portfolio holder Christine Lawton said Centenary Way is only off the forward planning list because the council’s main aim is to concentrate on the second permanent site “before we move on to anything else”.

She said: “I am hopeful we can get this one sorted because the people at Gosberton Clough need some resolution on this – they have had an illegal site for, what is it, 13 years?”