Villagers hand 1,300 signature petition against potential travellers site to council

PUBLISHED: 12:56 09 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:09 11 May 2010

Mike Reeve (left) and John Penny (right) outside the district council offices

Mike Reeve (left) and John Penny (right) outside the district council offices

VILLAGERS descended on a council s headquarters yesterday to express their opposition to a potential traveller s site. The residents of Bassingbourn presented a 1,300 signature strong petition to South Cambridgeshire District Council s planning chief, Cll

VILLAGERS descended on a council's headquarters yesterday to express their opposition to a potential traveller's site.

The residents of Bassingbourn presented a 1,300 signature strong petition to South Cambridgeshire District Council's planning chief, Cllr Nick Wright, at the council's Cambourne offices.

Land off Spring Lane, Bassingbourn was identified as a potential site for five new traveller pitches by the district council earlier this year. The authority has to make provision for 88 additional pitches across the district by 2011.

The petition was organised by the Bassingbourn Action Group, and John Penny from the group said: "To get so many signatures - more than half the village's adult population - is testament to the strength of feeling about this issue.

"We've had various meetings with planners over the last few weeks, and I think they've listened to us because our opposition is on planning grounds, rather than getting into the emotive arguments surrounding traveller sites.

"The fact is that Spring Lane is not close enough to the required facilities to fulfil the council's own planning guidelines," he said.

The group also submitted 30 representations to the council against the plans, including one from Bassingbourn parish council.

They say that acquiring the land needed for the pitches would cost the tax payer £475,000, and that the site may cause a "fear of intimidation" among those who currently use Spring Lane for recreation.

Joining the protesters was the village's district councillor, Nigel Cathcart.

Cllr Cathcart said: "I've been on the district council for 20 years, and I've never seen an issue which has caused so much concern."

Last month more than 500 villagers took part in a protest march against the plans.

A spokesman for the district council said: "At this early stage in the plan-making process South Cambridgeshire District Council has identified a range of options for public consultation in order to meet the requirements of the East of England Plan. In considering possible site options, we applied criteria that were selected following an earlier round of public consultation. The same criteria were applied across the district, with a focus on land that could be delivered.

"The consultation proposal for a site at Spring Lane, Bassingbourn concluded that it is on land owned by Cambridgeshire County Council, and is close to village services and facilities, with reasonable access to public transport," she said.


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