‘Don’t fear us – we work just like you’

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A traveller who lives at the illegal site in Gosberton Clough has expressed concerns about moving next to the busy A16 in Spalding, but says villagers living close by should not be worried.

The Free Press visited the site at Broad Drove following a two-hour council debate on the controversial new site off Drain Bank North, that saw the need for a deciding vote by planning committee chairman Coun Roger Gambba-Jones to push the plan through.

Watching the decision from a packed public gallery at South Holland District Council was one of the travellers.

He said: “We are worried about the busy road, but the people of Cowbit should not be worried about us.

“Someone once asked us ‘what’s it like to find a piece of land and move on to it and no-one be able to anything about it?’

“People say we never contribute to the community, but it isn’t like that at all. We all work and pay our taxes and bills, and we haven’t spent a penny of taxpayer’s money while we’ve been here.

“We all bought our land and paid to hook up to water and electricity. Everything you see here we paid for – the fencing and the stones we are standing on.

“All we have ever asked for is a licence to stay here, which was refused because of access.

“But it was us who paid for the road to be tarmaced when we moved here and we would have done it again if we had been staying.”

In the public gallery at the meeting he said he spotted a woman “shaking with fear” when the decision was made. He said: “Wherever we go there will be people who think we are there to cause trouble. The locals here were terrified when we moved in, but there have been no official complaints. Talk to them now and they will tell you we are families just like them. We don’t have two heads and our blood isn’t blue or green.

“People say we’re travellers, so why don’t we travel? But how would our children get educated or us be able to contribute to the community if we were moving all the time.

“Villagers in Cowbit need not worry that we are about to invade them. If the local school is full, our children will be educated in Spalding. We’ll still do our shopping at the supermarket in town like we always have.”

The Free Press called in at the home of Graham and Margaret Hoyle, who live just 20 metres from the Gosberton Clough site in a cottage directly opposite.

Mr Hoyle said: “We moved here so our family could grow up in the country. You could watch the rabbits play in the field opposite and we had views across the countryside.

“When the gypsies moved in overnight with their bulldozers in June 2004 we were worried. We’d heard terrifying stories about them.

“But as time has gone on our concerns have proved unfounded and the gypsies have proved to be ordinary family folk, just like us.

“However, the nature of their lifestyle and their love of outdoors, communal living, dogs and houses has made them noisy and obtrusive neighbours.

“We’ve spent a lot on renovating our cottage and this isn’t what we bought into.

“I appreciate the volume of opposition from the public regarding the new site, but Cowbit, centre of the oppositon, is a mile-and-a-half away.

“None of the objectors will be directly impacted. We are certainly very happy with the decision.”