Meet­ing to block site plan

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - UK & World Update - By ASHA ME­HTA

HUN­DREDS of vil­lagers are ex­pected to at­tend a spe­cial meet­ing to de­mand plans for a trav­ellers’ site are scrapped.

Pro­test­ers will make their voices heard at a pub­lic meet­ing to ex­am­ine Hunt­ing­don District Coun­cil’s pro­pos­als to cre­ate a gypsy site at Great Drove, Yax­ley.

MP for North West Cam­bridgeshire Shailesh Vara has al­ready urged that the scheme for 22 gypsy sites across the county are dropped.

And sev­eral Yax­ley res­i­dents have formed a group, called Res­i­dents Against In­ap­pro­pri­ate De­vel­op­ments, or RAID, to fight the plans.

Yax­ley parish councillor Ann Rees said the ma­jor­ity of the 12,500-strong pop­u­la­tion was up in arms about the pro­posed site.

She said: “It is in the most in­ap­pro­pri­ate place on a flood plain, next to a rail­way line and a deep dyke. This pro­posed site is a habi­tat for birds, an­i­mals and rep­tiles. You cant just plonk peo­ple any­where, these are hu­man be­ings and should be treated as such.”

A 42-year-old res­i­dent from Windsor Road, Yax­ley, said: “The feel­ing in the vil­lage is very strong. We have the in­fra­struc­ture of a vil­lage when we have the pop­u­la­tion of a small town. It’s hard enough get­ting doc­tors ap­point­ments now and there are only three schools. There is a fac­tory nearby with jug­ger­nauts go­ing up and down. The safety of the peo­ple liv­ing there will be com­pro­mised.”

Sug­ges­tions for suit­able sites have been put for­ward to the coun­cil by pri­vate and pub­lic landown­ers. The East of Eng­land Re­gional Spa­tial Strat­egy (RSS) – which set out how many homes and trav­ellers’ sites must be built in the re­gion by 2021 – stated 46 ex­tra per­ma­nent pitches plus 10 tran­sit pitches are needed in Hunt­ing­don­shire. How­ever, the new govern­ment is ax­ing the strat­egy to hand over more con­trol to lo­cal coun­cils.

Mr Vara says this means HDC should re-think its trav­ellers’ site plans. He has vis­ited the site and be­lieves it is un­suit­able for rea­sons in­clud­ing flood risk and strain on in­fra­struc­ture.

He added: “It does not serve the in­ter­ests of ei­ther the lo­cal com­mu­nity or the trav­ellers in­tend­ing to re­side here.”

But councillor Doug Dew, ex­ec­u­tive councillor for strate­gic plan­ning at HDC, said: “The abo­li­tion of tar­gets in Re­gional Spa­tial Strate­gies does not mean that the need for gypsy and trav­eller sites has gone away.”

The meet­ing takes place to­mor­row at Queen’s Park on Daim­ler Av­enue, Yax­ley at 7pm.

There will be a ex­hi­bi­tion at Queens Park on July 15 from 2pm.

The coun­cil has ex­tended the dead­line of the pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion by 11 days to July 30 in re­sponse to the strength of feel­ing.

Pic­ture: ALAN STORER

HIS­TORY BUFF: Lo­cal author John Kem­mery has launched a new web­site to pro­mote his book, The Jack­daws of Crow­land. (METP-24-06-10AS101)

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