Council’s traveller site plan

Travellers take up residence in the rear carpark of Arizant Ltd, on Calder Island Way.'w6950a146
Travellers take up residence in the rear carpark of Arizant Ltd, on Calder Island Way.'w6950a146

COUNCIL bosses say they will give travellers a new home in a bid to stop them poaching green belt land and upsetting communities.

Wakefield Council’s cabinet agreed on Tuesday to form a group to find “suitable” places for travellers’ sites, in the same week a group of travellers set up home in Thornes Park, before being moved by the police and the council to Calder Island Way.

Deputy council leader Coun Denise Jeffery said it was hoped new provision would deter travellers from forcing themselves into unwelcoming communities.

People in Walton are currently trying to fight off plans for a travellers site in their village.

Coun Jeffery said: “We need to control the situation, because if we don’t they are going to buy up more and more greenbelt land and get planning permission one way or another.

“It upsets the settled community.”

The Express understands travellers have been buying up plots in the Wakefield area and building on them before getting planning permission.

Coun Jeffery said: “We issue stop notices in these cases, meaning they are not supposed to do anything else with the land.

“But then they appeal, which takes months and months, and by the time it is settled they have built outbuildings and shower blocks.

“Until the appeal is settled we can’t do anything about it.”

Last year the council had to reverse plans to use a waste tip on Owl Lane, Ossett, as a travellers’ site due to public outrage at a meeting in Ossett Town Hall.

Coun Jeffery said an extension to Heath Common was not an option due to flooding issues.

She added: “It is such an emotive subject and it will not be easy to find new sites.”

Walton Parish Council is urging villagers to support a plan for a retirement village on land between The Grove and The Balk which will go before a planning committee on Thursday.

Approval of the plan would lay to rest plans for a travellers’ site on the same piece of land.

Parish council clerk David Plaut said a petition of about 1,400 signatures opposing the travellers site was handed to the council on Monday.

He said: “The people of Walton are united in their view and want the council to listen.”