Anger over decision to let travellers stay

The travellers'  caravans on the site next to the motorway at Bartle.
The travellers' caravans on the site next to the motorway at Bartle.

Site ‘creating hazards’ for people in area, says parish council

Travellers living by the motorway at Bartle have been told they can stay on because Preston City Council has nowhere else to put them.

The 22-strong community, camped in eight caravans next to the M55, has won 
permission to remain for the next two years, despite strong objections from residents.

The news has come as a blow to locals, who claim the travellers have caused numerous problems since arriving on Rosemary Lane in 2011, claims denied by the travellers.

Members of the council’s planning committee, who refused to allow a permanent site on the land, admitted they had little option but to agree to extending the “temporary” stay because at present Preston does not have enough spaces on authorised sites to accommodate them – and it could be two more years before it does.

Paul Entwistle, chairman of the Woodplumpton Parish Council, told the committee: “This site is totally unacceptable for temporary or permanent residence. It creates a number of hazards for people living in this area. There has been a total lack of integration by these residents over the last three years.”

The travellers overturned a council decision to refuse planning permission for their site in January 2011 on appeal. They were allowed a three-year stay, which expired this year.

Now they have a further two years while Preston, South Ribble and Chorley councils work together to provide more permanent pitches.

The travellers hit back at claims they were causing a nuisance, claiming the site was kept clean and they were making attempts to integrate into the local community - some of the women had even joined a Zumba group locally.

“We think we are being criticised unfairly,” said Kiara Lee. “The allegations being made about pollution, the access junction being dangerous and accusations of us intimidating people are just not true.

“It’s not fair to call us isolated because we actually try to get involved with the community. We get on well with people locally, support the local businesses and we want to be part of the community.

“It is just a few people who are opposed to us, like the parish council man who admits he hasn’t even been down here to the site.”