Row erupts over travellers' site

A PETITION has been launched to oppose a new travellers' site at the Cambridge Golf Driving Range in Cowley Road.

Almost 1,000 signatures have been collected from golfers, park and ride users and businesses near the proposed site.

On Monday councillors voted in favour of a £250,000 10-plot encampment, despite serious concerns raised by nearby businesses and Andy Campbell, Stagecoach Cambridgeshire's managing director, about the safety of park and ride staff.

The council will now submit plans to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for a grant toward the cost of the work.

But the owners of the golf driving range said it is likely to close if the proposals go ahead.

A spokesman said: "The council is talking about putting up 30 metre high perimeter fencing, but the chances are it might still not stop a ball landing on top of their homes or on a person.

"If the travellers' site goes ahead, our driving range is doomed to failure.

"If we lost the range we would be very disappointed. What we would probably seek to do is relocate and we would look for support from Cambridge City Council.

"We like to try to get it to work out but if the customers don't come, we don't have a business. Whatever the council does for us, they can't bring us customers."

He said: "The range is used by a great number of people from Cambridge."

The shop at the driving range employs eight staff and they fear their jobs are under threat.

Council leader Ian Nimmo-Smith said the travellers' site, which could be open by next summer, would occupy just over half an acre of the 11.5 acre site and would be in the furthest corner from the driving bays.

He has offered to meet the owners of the driving range and representatives of other businesses in the Cowley Road business park to address their concerns.

He said: "This site was the only one from a list of 10 possibilities that matched criteria set down in the city's local plan. I wish there had been more choices, and indeed ones that were more clearly acceptable.

"Nonetheless I think the council owes it to residents and businesses across Cambridge to look very carefully to see if this one could be made to work.

"There will be no thanks if next summer brings a series of illegal encampments and we have not given this possibility our best shot."

What precisely are the concerns of the golfers, park and ride users and businesses near the proposed site? Another lot of people who see Gypsy and see Irish Trailer Trash. Obvious. The question is from this writer: who is the site for? Is it for genuine Gypsy People or for Irish Trailer Trash? If it were for the latter, primarily, then I would say the people do have valid concerns. Then again the Irish one would encamp there illegally anyway.