Second traveller site earmarked

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SOUTH Holland District Council chairman Gary Porter has confirmed negotiations are under way with the owner of an as yet unidentified piece of land for a permanent travellers’ site.

In April, this newspaper said a site was in the pipeline for Gosberton Clough to replace an illegal site in Broad Drove.

However, Coun Porter has said he doesn’t want to jeopardise negotiations over something that has been “rattling around” for years by disclosing the location of the land.

In May 2006, a Government inspector identified the need for two permanent gypsy and traveller sites and ten overnight stopping places on a transit site for the district. The council was given Government funds to provide the pitches.

A permanent site has been established off the A151 road at Holbeach, which replaced an illegal site at Cranmore Lane.

Controversy has dogged the council’s attempts to establish a second site for the district. In 2009, more than a thousand people signed petitions against a permanent gypsy site proposed for the A16 Spalding bypass, saying it would be a “blot on the landscape”.

A site has also been identified at Sutton Bridge for the temporary site, with planning approval and a Compulsory Purchase Order approved following a public inquiry in 2010. The council won’t go ahead on this until the second permanent site and its full costs have been established.

South Holland District Council faced criticism after spending £1,075,834 on the Holbeach development, leaving just £638,682 in the budget for the two other sites. Coun Porter confirmed the council would only spend what had been allocated for the gypsy and traveller sites.

However, he said a few unauthorised sites had sprung up in South Holland but the resistance to a second site put up by local residents has resulted in the council’s hands being tied.

“The Government inspector says we need two permanent ten-pitch sites and a temporary site and if we deliver this new site we can then start taking enforcement action against the other (illegal) sites,” said Coun Porter. “Our hands are tied because we haven’t got adequate provision. Nobody wants a site near them, that’s the trouble, and that’s why this has been going on for donkey’s years.”

He confirmed the council is in the process of establishing the cost of providing electricity and water to the land earmarked for the second permanent site.

The difficulty in establishing a second traveller site has clearly frustrated Coun Porter, who said: “It’s a distraction when we should be doing other stuff.”