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Travellers bid to stay put at Good Friday gypsy site


Travellers who set up an illegal camp four years ago are now seeking permission to make it permanent.

Families who live on The Good Friday gypsy site, near Barlestone, want to stay put despite a temporary three-year permission for them having expired last month.

The camp, next to the authorised Costalot site off the B585, is named after the day four years ago when travellers moved on to the site and began concreting it, without permission.

The families applied for retrospective planning permission for the 10-pitch site but were refused by Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council.

Following an appeal, a planning inspector said they could remain for three years, from March 2010, anticipating that the council would provide more authorised pitches in that time.

The latest planning application is being opposed by nearby residents and councillors.

Councillor Paul Bessant, leader of the council's Tory opposition group, said: "It doesn't matter one bit that it is a travellers' site.

"What matters is that it was developed illegally. It shouldn't be there in the first place."

He accused the council's Liberal Democrat administration of trying to deal with the application "under the radar" after it appeared on a list of items to be dealt with by officers under their delegated powers rather than being discussed in a public planning committee meeting.

He said: "If the Lib Dems had their way, elected members would not discuss this and members of the public would not be able to have their say.

"They should have been insisting it be removed."

Lib Dem council leader Stuart Bray said it was not true that they had tried to deal with the matter behind closed doors.

He said: "The application is a variation of a condition on the temporary approval and those sorts of things are routinely dealt with by officers.

"It was the (Lib Dem) councillor for the area, Bill Crooks, who called for this to be discussed by the committee.

"We get no advantage from keeping it quiet."

He said he wanted the application to be rejected. He said: "We were looking at enforcement but could not do that until the permission had expired."

Barlestone Parish Council chairman Derek Crane said: "We want it refused but it will almost certainly be appealed.

The Mercury tried to contact Philip Brown Associates, the agent for the travellers, but was unsuccessful.

Travellers  bid to stay put at  Good Friday gypsy site

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