DERBYSHIRE DALES: Travellers demand independent review

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A gypsy family has demanded an independent review of a Rowsley traveller site to assess whether it would be a suitable place for them to live.

Last month, Derbyshire Dales District Council offered the Gastram family a temporary traveller site in Old Station Close car park, Rowsley, for a period of nine months after planning permission was granted in March.

The family were given four weeks to make a decision, but have instead requested an independent site review.

The cost of the review – believed to be in the hundreds of pounds – will be met by the district council.

A spokesman for the authority said: ““The Travellers have a statutory right to challenge our offer of a temporary site and have requested a review of the suitability of the site at Rowsley. An independent assessment will now be undertaken, the outcome of which is likely within four weeks.”

However, the request has sparked public outrage, with many believing the family are ungrateful for the offer.

Jon Habot said: “I’m not sure they are in a position to demand anything.”

A reader, who posted on the Mercury’s website said: “There’s a lot of take but not much give with these traveller families.” Another added: “The cheek!”

But Siobhan Spencer, of the Derbyshire Gypsy Liason Group (DGLG), insisted that there were still questions that needed to be answered – despite planning permission already being approved.

“Ourselves and the family are concerned about the fire access and are also worried about soil contamination on the site,” said Siobhan.

The DGLG have further concerns with the Rowsley site, though. Siobhan believes that “in austere times” it would be better for local authorities to “tolerate” the family parking illegally, until a permanent site is found for them.

Siobhan said: “If this is the way the council are approaching the situation then it is vital that we guarantee the site is safe and suitable for the family to live.”