Council made to look ‘foolish’ by travellers

Small traveller site at Mile Drove near Nine Bridges near Northborough EMN-160608-213714009
Small traveller site at Mile Drove near Nine Bridges near Northborough EMN-160608-213714009
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A three-year battle to remove travellers looks set to continue despite the city council leader admitting the authority is being made to look “foolish.”

The owner of land near Nine Bridges in Mile Drove, Glinton is continuing to live illegally on the site - even after being fined £1,500 in court.

Patrick O’Connor was first served an enforcement notice on October 2, 2013 telling him and his family to leave as the land was permitted for agricultural use only, in part due to the high risk of flooding.

Mr O’Connor appealed the notice to the Planning Inspectorate who sided with the council and gave him until October 15, 2015 to leave the site.

But with no action taken before the deadline, the council prosecuted Mr O’Connor who pleaded guilty at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court and was fined £1,500, ordered to pay costs of £500 and a victim surcharge of £120.

He has now put in a planning application to change the use of the land to residential which is being considered by the council’s planning department.

Council leader Councillor John Holdich, ward councillor for Glinton, said he will contact the Government once the situation has been cleared up to highlight problems with the law. He added: “To say my constituents and I are totally frustrated is probably an understatement. The council is still going to pursue this despite the planning application.

“We do not want to make the mistakes of Dale Farm in Essex where it took 10 years to get them off. We could turn them off tomorrow but they could come back. We need to know the law is on our side.

“I have to remain confident we can get rid of them as that is what my constituents want to see. Not to have them off at the earliest opportunity is making the city council and parish council look foolish.”

A council spokeswoman said: “The land continues to be occupied in breach of the notice and the council is currently seeking legal advice to secure compliance with the terms of the notice.”