Traveller myth ‘needs busting’

The council chamber at Peterborough Town Hall

The council chamber at Peterborough Town Hall

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Travellers who leave a mess are no worse than the many people who fly-tip in Peterborough, according to a city council officer.

Gary Goose, head of community services, said there needs to be a degree of myth-busting about the traveller community, claiming they are no worse than residents who dump rubbish on the street.

His words come as council leader Councillor John Holdich criticised a proposed traveller’s encampment in his ward of Glinton, one of three which are now being considered for planning approval.

The Glinton application is for land west of Lincoln Road, adjacent to the Green Wheel, which is currently gated to try and stop illegal encampments.

Cllr Holdich said: “It’s a very narrow access and it won’t be ideal for people who own dogs and horses, and for kids going to Arthur Mellows.

“I think the city council needs to come up with a plan for travellers. We have to stop this illegal parking around the city. The problem is nobody wants a site near them.”

The council agreed three Emergency Stopping Places (ESPs) for travellers in September 2014 after a cross-party working group spent more than two years searching for sites.

However, the council admitted last week that on review, land near the Household Recycling Centre in Dogsthorpe could not be used all year round, while land at Corporation Farm in First Drove, Fengate, had access issues.

Therefore, the only current ESP is at Clay Lane at the rear of the Dogsthorpe Triangle.

Mr Goose, speaking at a council scrutiny meeting, said: “The majority of travellers that come through the city we ask to move on. Some leave a mess behind. But if you are aware of the amount of fly-tipping reports we get from the non-traveller community, I would ask ‘what is the difference?’

“There’s a degree of myth-busting that needs to go on with the travelling community.”

ESPs can be used for 28 days a year. Cllr June Bull said: “The problem is 28 days in a year is insufficient. That’s why we get recycling of travellers.”

The committee recommended that the cross-party working group be re-established. Planning applications for traveller sites are also at Fenvale, Crowland Road, Eye and land south east of Nine Bridges, Mile Drove, Glinton.