Travellers could face move to Matlock Bath next week
A FAMILY of travellers who have been pitched up in Ashbourne’s town centre for just over a month could be asked to move to Matlock Bath next week.
Derbyshire Dales District Councillors have been called to a meeting on Monday to discuss a plan to encourage the family to stay on an overflow car park next to Matlock Bath’s station, known as Tinti’s Yard.
In a report to the Community and Environment Committee the district council’s chief executive Paul Wilson has said that the current unauthorised encampment in Ashbourne’s Fishpond Meadow Car Park, off Park Road, is not considered suitable in the longer term due to its location, poor ground conditions, lack of services and its required use as a town centre car park.
The News Telegraph has learned since the report was published that the district council’s environmental health team has had to deal with five noise complaints from the encampment – and one complaint alleging damage to a fence.
The report has revealed that the council has “tolerated” Ashbourne’s encampment since the travellers chose to move there on Sunday, November 4, and that no attempt has been made to force them to move.
The report also reveals that the family camped in Ashbourne has recently made an application to declare themselves homeless, which puts further pressure on the council to find them a permanent site.
Last month, councillors agreed to step up the authority’s search for a plot of land the travellers can settle on permanently, and this is set to continue, but bosses are now duty bound to find a temporary site.
If the councillors vote to approve plans to use the Tinti’s Yard site in Matlock Bath, the travellers can be asked to move to it from Ashbourne, but they cannot be forced and there is no guarantee they will choose to stay.
Referring to Tinti’s Yard in his report, published on Friday evening, Mr Wilson explained to councillors: “If Members are in agreement that this is a suitable temporary alternative, the district council can direct the family to leave the current site, however, the district council cannot compel the family to relocate to Tinti’s Yard. “If, following direction to an alternative temporary site, the family remain in situ or relocate to another unauthorised site; Officers of the council will utilise their delegated authority to consider whether to undertake possession proceedings.”
At Monday’s meeting, due to take place in public from 6pm in Matlock Town Hall, councillors will be asked to vote on whether to direct the travellers to Matlock Bath and then to “tolerate them” there until March 2019.
This, the authority hopes, will allow them sufficient time to find a permanent site for the family elsewhere in the district and discourage any further unauthorised encampments.
The council can direct the family to leave but not compel them to relocate to Tinti’s Yard Paul Wilson
Fishpond Meadow in Ashbourne, has seen an unauthorised encampment by a traveller family for just over a month.