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Park group to lodge complaint over Cheshire East Council illegal traveller camp response

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019 11:43am

By Jenny Bonson & Stephen Topping, Local Democracy Reporter

Friends of Barony Park in Nantwich say they'll be lodging a formal complaint against Cheshire East Council, over lack of action to protect it from travellers setting up illegal camps.

10 have been established on the site since the start of the year.

Rachel Cole from the group called on the council's cabinet to reconsider applying for a court injunction to stop unauthorised camps being established or using physical barriers such as fencing or hardening.

While recognising the council is currently considering reviving plans for a transit site at Cledford Hall in Middlewich, she warned the council that it should ‘not be putting all our eggs in that basket’.

Rachel said: “Residents deserve action now. A court injunction would allow CEC to take much swifter action.

“No preventative measures that would keep the character of the park are going to be guaranteed to work, but there is a reason that multiple councils have and continue to use them.

“If they are good enough for other areas why are they not good enough for Cheshire East? They act as a deterrent by making life difficult, and they require users of unauthorised encampments to break the law to set up.

“We are ready to see action, we are ready to go, we need a council that wants to be proactive as well.”

Rachel told councillors that 100 residents and businesses have given their backing to a detailed list of preventative measures such as fencing it had put together to tackle the issue.

Meanwhile, Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate Kieran Mullan asked the council if it had considered applying for a court injunction against unauthorised encampments at the park.

But Cllr Sam Corcoran, CEC’s Labour leader, said at last month’s cabinet meeting that physical barriers were not ‘an ideal solution’ – while the authority has held off applying for an injunction after Bromley Council had an application rejected by the courts.

Cllr Arthur Moran, independent CEC member for Nantwich North and West, said: “At the present time, if we are not careful, then Barony Park will become the unofficial transit park.

“Barony Park is a public park, and every time we have visits from the travellers, Everybody Leisure loses finance from their facility on there, Ansa has to clean up and there is lots of anti-social behaviour.

“I want to know when you are actually going to take some action – quick action.”

His concerns were shared by Cllr Peter Groves, Conservative member for Nantwich South and Stapeley.

He told cabinet that both he and Nantwich residents were ‘surprised and somewhat disappointed’ by comments made to the Local Democracy Reporting Service last week by Cllr Jonathan Parry, who is opposed to the Cledford Hall plans.

CEC is now preparing to launch a consultation on the second part of the local plan from August 19 – including a proposal for 10 transit pitches at Cledford Hall.

Meanwhile, Cllr Nick Mannion, cabinet member for environment and regeneration, revealed that CEC has received independent legal advice on injunctions and that the council’s lawyers will soon issue a new recommendation.

Cllr Mick Warren, cabinet member for communities, added: “I share your concerns about these encampments causing issues for your community.

“Quite rightly you are after solutions off us – quick solutions. We would like to give you quick solutions but we have got to do it in a processed manner.”

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