Plans to use Peterborough car parks as sites for travellers

Travellers in Bishop's Road car park previously. EMN-170102-121954009
Travellers in Bishop's Road car park previously. EMN-170102-121954009
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Converting city centre car parks into travellers’ sites should be considered by Peterborough City Council, according to a new report.

The recommendation was made by councillors on a working group to try and fix Peterborough’s desperate need for adequate sites.

The councillors concluded that the council should identify land for purchase and, if necessary, compulsory purchase, with four sites needed.

Another option is to approach the Diocesan Advisory Committee - a church advisory body - about using its land.

Debating the report at a scrutiny meeting, Councillor Ansar Ali said: “We should enforce the law, but there’s a lack of proper provision.

“We have to get the bull by the horns now. It blights the city when we have these unwelcome headlines. We have to put our money where out mouth is.”

Working group chairman Cllr John Fox declined to discuss the recommendation on city centre parking. Group member Cllr Bella Saltmarsh said the only possible city centre site to put up travellers is Dickens Street Car Park, off Eastfield Road. She said: “I would not be terribly happy with a site being there,” but added: “If the council says its feasible I think I would support it.”

Last month travellers pitched up at the Bishop’s Road Car Park and the car park outside the Key Theatre. A review by councillors in 2014 saw three sites earmarked as an emergency stopping place for travellers. However, it soon became clear that only land by the Dogsthorpe Triangle was suitable.

The annual council budget for cleaning up illegal traveller encampments and defending sites from unauthorised entry is £50,000. Cllr John Whitby said travellers should pay to use any new sites so that they do not cost money to run. The recommendations will now be passed to the council’s cabinet.