'Travellers camp is being built illegally' (Leicester Mercury 9/4/09)

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'Travellers camp is being built illegally' (Leicester Mercury 9/4/09)

Post by Admin on Sat Apr 11, 2009 8:00 am

Diggers and tipper trucks have moved on to a field to begin building what is believed to be an illegal travellers' site.

Residents said scores of vehicles and heavy machinery drove on to fields next to the Costalot travellers' site, between Bagworth and Barlestone, on Thursday night to begin work.

The site is owned by members of the traveller community. Council leaders say it does not have planning permission for people to live there – and are now trying to get a legal order to force the work to stop.

Derek Crane, chairman of Barlestone Parish Council, said: "It's unbelievable – an illegal travellers' site is being built before our very eyes and we can't do anything to stop it.

"This isn't just a couple of caravans moving on to a field – this is heavy machinery, trucks filled with soil and hard core and workmen."
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He said the site is about 11-acres – twice as big as Costalot – and owned by a member of the travelling community.

He said: "Vehicles began moving on to the field, off Barlestone Road, at about 6.30pm, on Thursday.

"There was activity there late into the night and throughout Good Friday. "I've been inundated with calls from alarmed residents who are in uproar.

"But it's been impossible to get hold of anyone at Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council because it's closed for Easter."

One resident, who did not want to be named, said: "First thing Friday morning, at 5am, there were lorries, bulldozers and diggers waiting to get on.

"They're not messing around and are working flat out."

Residents were able to get hold of Barlestone Councillor Bill Crooks and leader of Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, Coun David Bill, yesterday.

Coun Bill said: "As I understand it, work is taking place to establish an illegal travellers camp without planning permission. I have been in touch with the council's chief executive Steve Atkinson and he is asking the courts to issue an emergency stop order to prevent any more work taking place.

"It is a well-known ploy used by travellers in other parts of the country to build these sites when the planning authorities are closed for the public holiday.

"But it has no planning permission and will be removed."

Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council has been told by the Government to find land for 39 residential traveller pitches and space for 10 transit caravans as part of its long-term planning framework.

No-one at the site, where work was continuing yesterday was available for comment.

Alfie Kefford, chairman of the Leicestershire Gypsy Council Liaison Group, said: "This is the first I've heard of it. I don't know anyone in the traveller community who can tell me what is going on."

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