Travelling Showmen get one more year at Utopia

Photo: David Hurst'Utopia Site on Kepple Lane, Garstang
Photo: David Hurst'Utopia Site on Kepple Lane, Garstang

Enough is enough. That was the message delivered to
Kepple Lane landowner Stanley Cubbins as councillors extended his “residency” at Utopia, but for only one more year.

Wyre Councillor Paul Moon said the “clock was now ticking” for the travelling show people living on the Garstang site and called on planning officers to bring an end to the long-running saga and find an alternative base.

Mr Cubbins and his family, who set-up their caravan site around eight years ago, had been due to vacate the park on May 20.

He had lodged an application for another three-year extension, but Wyre Council’s planning committee decided it had already been far too generous and now owed it to the surrounding Kepple Lane residents to restore the land to its natural state, as directed by the appeal inspector’s decision in 2009.

However, a second application for outline planning permission for up to 75 homes to be built on Utopia was approved.

Speaking at Wyre Civic Centre Garstang Wyre Coun Tom Balmain said: “If this extension is given permission for three years then it will show a complete betrayal of trust in the local community who accepted the inspector’s ruling knowing full well it was for five years only.

“It will show that the planning process is not for the local community but to suit the whims of others who do not live next door to this eyesore.”

Coun Rogers Brooks for Cabus ward described the application as a ‘slap in the face’ for local people and a three-year extension ‘unjustified.’

In a report he submitted to the committee he said: “A one-year extension should be more than sufficient for the council to find him and his family and friends a new home. Ironically, you would be giving the council not Mr Cubbins an extension.”

Planning committee member Coun David Williams, who lives on Church Lane, and did not take part in the vote echoed the sentiments.

He said: “If nothing has been found that is not the fault of the Garstang residents who expect Wyre Council to keep their word.”

During the debate councillors expressed frustration at the lack of detail presented over actions taken to identify ‘suitable land’ and the decision of Mr Cubbin’s and his agents not to attend the meeting to answer questions.

Coun Moon said: “I really do hope the officers work extremely hard with the agents and applicants and all the parties pull their fingers out and find a solution to this problem.”

Addressing David Thow, head of Wyre planning services, he added: “I want to see some hard evidence on who you have been talking to, where you have been looking and in 12 months see some progress made. I can’t be doing with all this hearsay. The clock is now ticking.”