Travellers' site gets golf range go-ahead

A NEW travellers' site has been given the go-ahead - despite serious concerns.
Cambridge councillors voted six-to-one in favour of building a travellers' transit site on the golf driving range in Cowley Road.

The council will now submit a bid to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for a grant to build the emergency stopping place.

The 11.5 acre plot is on the north side of Cowley Road, Chesterton, near the park and ride site, bus company Stagecoach's depot and a sewage works. The site would contain 10 plots and would cost the council £250,000 to set up plus annual running costs of between £25,000 to £30,000.

The plan aims to stop the problem of travellers illegally setting-up camp within the city. If it goes ahead, it could be open by next summer. Once travellers move onto the land, they would be allowed to stay for up to three months.

Suzanne McBride, head of community services strategy said the site was aimed at a very small number of families who repeatedly return to the city for family or health reasons.The plan also has the support of the police.

Pc Nick Percival, community beat officer for Chesterton, said it would enable the police to move illegally camped travellers to an authorised site.

Ian Nimmo-Smith, leader of the council, said the council would foot the bill if a Government grant was not forthcoming. He admitted the rush to get the scheme through was, in part, due to hope of securing Government cash.

But Andy Campbell, managing director of bus company Stagecoach, said he had "grave concerns" over the safety of his staff.

And Stephen Terrell, managing director of Coulson Building Group, questioned why the site was to be built in the middle of a business park.

Tory Eric Barrett-Payton, the only member of the council's scrutiny committee to vote against the scheme, said the site would not solve the problem of illegally camped travellers.

Coun Nimmo-Smith said the Cowley Road site was the only suitable site available.
The council considered a total of 13 sites including King's Hedges Road, four sites on Fen Road, north of the A14, Foster Road, Howard Road, Whitehill Road, Fulbourn Road, Mallets Road and Peverel Road.

He stressed management of the site was crucial and pledged to address concerns of businesses at the site and of local residents.

¦ South Cambridgeshire District Council has succeeded in a High Court move to block the return of travellers to the controversial Smithy Fen site in Cottenham.
The Council went to the High Court in London on Monday to seek continuation of an emergency court order granted on November 11 which prevents anyone from moving onto the site off Setchel Drove, Smithy Fen, which is currently vacant.

In a brief hearing, judge Mr Justice McCombe granted the order. The injunction lists three names - Daniel Sheridan, Patrick Sheridan and John Sheridan - but is also made in respect of 'persons unknown'.