Speculation over new Peterborough traveller site location

Aerial view of the tavellers' site at Oxney Road, Peterborough. Photo: David Lowndes
Aerial view of the tavellers' site at Oxney Road, Peterborough. Photo: David Lowndes

Residents of Newborough, near Peterborough have vowed to fight if feared plans to put a travellers camp in nearby fields become a reality.

The alarm has been sparked by speculation that the village of Newborough may be a preferred option for the location of an emergency travellers’ camp.

Currently, a cross-party group of city councillors is considering the location options for temporary site where travellers would be able to camp legally for up to a month before they move on elsewhere.

Councillor John Fox, an independent councillor, is the chairman of the cross-party group, and has previously said that the council could need four to six locations for the emergency camps.

“We are talking about a piece of land where you can move the travellers and charge them rent so they pay their way and pay for cleaning and the provision of portable toilets.

“We need more than one so we have options to alternate them around when more than one group is in the city.”

Work on the recommendations began in February last year and the committee is expected to report back to the council’s Cabinet in a few weeks.

But Newborough’s Councillor David Harrington said: “I have been made aware that Newborough could be suggested as a location.

“The council owns a lot of land here. But I’ll warn the council now that we will fight any proposal to set up a travellers’ camp here. This is just not going to happen.”

Cllr Marco Cereste, the council leader, said: “I do not know what the preferred options are although there is a long list.

He said: “I am sure the cross-party working group will come up with good reasons for its choices. This is a very sensitive matter and it was felt it was best dealt with by a cross-party group of councillors.”

Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said: “We don’t want a travellers’ camp in Newborough. There are other more suitable sites, for instance near the truckstop at Wansford.”

A council spokeswoman said: “A cross-party working group was set up to look at potential sites in the council area that could be used as an emergency stopping place, to which unauthorised encampments of travellers could be relocated.

“The group has concluded its investigations and is now reviewing the results in order to make recommendations. Once this has been finalised a report detailing these recommendations will go to our Cabinet for approval.”

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The cost of cleaning up

One of the main complaints about travellers’ illegal camps is the cost of cleaning up after they leave.

In the financial year 2011/12, Peterborough City Council paid out £25,000 cleaning up after travellers’ makeshift camps.

In 2009/10 they spent £18,870, in 2008/09 the figure was £30,340 and during 2007/08 £21,830 was spent.