Cledford Hall - transit site for travellers

Cledford Hall is again being considered as a transit site for gypsies and travellers as Cheshire East Council deals with a rise in illegal encampments, writes Stephen Topping.

Cheshire East Council gained planning permission for a transit site at Cledford Hall, in Middlewich, back in 2015 – but that lapsed last year after no work had begun on the site within three years.

Now, the council has confirmed it is taking another look at opening a transit site at Cledford Hall, having been hit with a recent rise in unauthorised encampments across the borough.

Cllr Arthur Moran, independent member for Nantwich North and West, called for action at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting after a fifth illegal encampment at Barony Park in his ward forced leisure facilities on the site to close.

He said: “This is a plea, to be quite honest.

“This has been an ongoing problem at the park for the last four years and, apart from talking, I have to say that with the former administration we’ve had little action on preventative measures, or in fact, providing a transit site for travellers.

Arthur Moran -New Homes Bonus

Cllr Arthur Moran

“Can I urge this council to provide a travellers’ transit site within Cheshire East as a matter of urgency?”

In boroughs which have transit sites, police have the power to move gypsies and travellers off illegal encampments as soon as possible.

Any gypsies and travellers that refuse to move from an unauthorised encampment to a transit site have to leave the borough and cannot return for three months.

But CEC does not have a transit site – meaning it requires court orders to force gypsies and travellers to move elsewhere, which is a more costly and time-consuming process.

Cllr Ant Critchley, Labour member for Crewe Central, called on CEC to provide a transit site “as a matter of urgency”.

He said: “Until this is sorted we are failing both the travelling community and also the residents of Cheshire East, who are put out by people who are setting up on public land.

“I fear this will be a long and frustrating summer for a number of residents and a costly one for council coffers in legal costs unless something is done by this council.”

There were fierce objections to the Cledford Hall transit site when it was first announced in 2014 from Middlewich residents and councillors, along with Fiona Bruce, Conservative MP for Congleton.

Planning permission was granted the following year, but this expired last May, and now the council is conducting a feasibility study to see if the plans should be revived.

Cllr Sam Corcoran, CEC’s Labour leader, told cabinet on Tuesday: “We do need to address the issue of transit sites.

“We must provide transit sites because if there aren’t transit sites available then it is very difficult to object to people parking and setting up sites elsewhere.”

Cllr Mick Warren, cabinet member for communities, added that the issue is “on my top priority list” in light of the recent issues at Barony Park.

A spokesman at CEC said: “CEC continues to explore the options for a permanent gypsy and traveller transit site.

“We are in the process of undertaking a feasibility study at Cledford Hall and will establish the cost of development.

“While this work is carried out, we are considering other mechanisms to deal with the increase in unauthorised encampments.”

3 Comments

  1. Jed stone says:

    Idiotic thinking, time to get real, They are never going to leave town, why would they with all facilities on hand?

    Education is needed to integrate this way of life to benefit everyone, high time a new approach was actioned.

    Does anyone else apart from the council keep doing something that fails every time? No I don’t think so!!

  2. Lawrence Edwards says:

    Other mechanisms – such as preventative measures like

    https://www.northwichguardian.co.uk/news/17696719.bunds-installed-at-northwich-playing-fields-to-deter-traveller-camps/

    The funding was there why has it gone quiet?

    • Mounds of soil are nowhere near the answer to prevent illegal encampments. They would not be in keeping with the area. The money was never made available there are so many public spaces that would also then require the same preventative measures .
      The local town council should dig deep in its coffers to implement a temporary solution. The council let the planning to lapse as the permission granted wasn’t feasible I anticipate a new proposal to be submitted soon. The only issue is the new ‘leadership’ at the council and the move to a committee rather than cabinet process which means it’s likely going to be autumn before the council gets its house in order!

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