You have to feel sorry for them all

Ashbourne News Telegraph - - OPINIONS & LETTERS -

ONE can’t help feel­ing a pang of sym­pa­thy for Der­byshire Dales District Coun­cil. And a fam­ily of trav­ellers.

Wher­ever their car­a­vans are pitched, ur­ban or ru­ral, they’re about as wel­come as a bull in a china shop. But, nev­er­the­less, the law says the district coun­cil has to find a site for them.

Among Der­byshire Dales’s sprawl­ing land mass there needs to be a piece of flat, hard stand­ing which sat­is­fies a string of plan­ning poli­cies, with ad­e­quate util­i­ties, and prefer­ably a lack of any sen­si­tive neigh­bours.

And it’s not as if the coun­cil can go to a pri­vate landowner with a blank cheque and a warm smile – who can af­ford to give over their plot to trav­ellers for a fee the district can af­ford to pay?

It’s prob­a­bly safe to as­sume there’s no pub­liclyowned land that’s suit­able, or it would have been used in place of the wildly in­ap­pro­pri­ate Watery Lane site which, we ex­pect, was only on the ta­ble to en­sure the Lo­cal Plan was adopted.

So what is the coun­cil to do? They’ve been look­ing for a per­ma­nent site for years, so can how far can their net be widened? Are we fac­ing yet more years of this poor fam­ily hav­ing to jump from site to site, fac­ing an­gry com­ments and evic­tions?

One thing is clear from com­ments and opin­ions al­ready reg­is­tered:

Ash­bourne will not tol­er­ate an en­camp­ment in the town cen­tre.

Watery Lane was con­tro­ver­sial enough, but the thought of a trav­eller fam­ily mak­ing free use of a pub­lic amenity gifted to the town by Nestlé, next to shel­tered ac­com­mo­da­tion, fac­ing a block of flats, and di­rectly against what is es­sen­tially a beauty spot, has proven a bit­ter pill.

Let’s hope a so­lu­tion is found soon, for the sake of ev­ery­one con­cerned, and we can find some­where away from Fish­pond Meadow.

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