Village outrage over traveller site

editorial image

TRADERS and residents are furious at plans to allow a traveller site in Rowsley.

A meeting was called by Rowsley Parish Council on Wednesday, November 7, so representatives from Derbyshire Dales District Council could explain the reasoning behind their proposal and the timescale involved.

To begin with, Sandra Lamb, head of democratic services for the district council, explained: “We have received an application from a family to be treated as homeless and the council now has a legal duty to provide homes to these applicants.

“The family wish to be situated on a caravan park and don’t want a brick-and-mortar house – although that has been offered to them.”

Currently, the family are situated at the Bakewell Agricultural Business Centre but cannot stay there because the land is not entirely owned by the district council. As the site had not been put forward by the family as a preferred option the district council has not even considered it.

Amid shouts of “anywhere but Bakewell” and “I don’t think we’re being told the truth” – it appeared this reasoning did little to appease the many people who believe the family should remain at their current location until planning permission for a permanent site has been granted.

The main concern villagers had with the plans for Old Station Close was about the displacement of parked cars whose owners already use the proposed site as a car park.

Residents are fearful that those people who currently park at Old Station Close will move to nearby on-street sites near the Post Office or primary school and that blocking either of these roads would cause on going traffic problems and raise safety concerns, particularly outside the primary school.

However, in the wake of the meeting, the district council has sent letters informing traders that land adjacent to the car park – currently used to store organic material – will be used for the traveller site and the car park will remain unaffected.

But villagers are also concerned that the number of travellers is increasing beyond the remit of the proposal. The plans are for up to five vehicles in Rowsley and a second proposal for a three year site in Ashbourne is similarly for five vehicles, although the number of traveller vehicles at the agricultural centre is believed to have increased to seven already.

To great applause, resident and business owner James Harrison said: “I’ve already got one dealership opposite a traveller site and we’ve had untold damage from there. We’ve got our solicitors on board and we will fight this as hard as we can.

“I will never let a traveller site anywhere near any of my buildings ever again.”

Other traders on Old Station Close have vowed to form an action committee too.

The plans for the long term traveller site in Ashbourne – on land adjacent to Ashbourne Cemetery and the Mayfield Road Allotments – will allow up to five caravans for a period of three years. However, there has already been considerable objection to the Ashbourne plans and the district council has been forced to extend the public consultation period before discussing the proposals in December.

Paul Wilson, director of planning and housing services, said: “Proposals of this nature are very controversial and we are mindful of that. But the council has a housing duty and a planning duty and at the moment, we are failing at both.”

Rowsley Parish Council is to hold a special meeting on November 19 to formally consider its response to the proposals. The meeting is open to the public and will be held at Rowsley Village Hall from 7.30pm.

Derbyshire Dales District Council will make a decision on November 29, when the views of the Rowsley Parish Council and other affected parties will be considered.