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Council secures order to bar travellers from Dales site

Derbyshire Dales District Council, Matlock
Derbyshire Dales District Council, Matlock

Nearly a dozen unauthorised caravans parked by travellers in Bakewell are set to be barred from the site for a year after the council secured a court order.

This latest development is just another step in an almost decade-long battle to properly cater for travellers in the Derbyshire Dales.

Council officers say that there is a “pressing urgency” to address the issue in the interests of residents and the travellers themselves.

Derbyshire Dales District Council had hoped to finally secure a site specifically for travellers in Watery Lane, Ashbourne, but that has now been put on hold.

The eight-year-long mission to seal the earmarked site for four traveller families has been postponed while Derbyshire County Council forges ahead with plans to build an Ashbourne bypass – which would possibly run past the west of the town in a bid to alleviate the area’s historic traffic woes.

To push forward with these plans, the county council has suspended all land purchases around Ashbourne, which would have included the traveller site.

The potential cost of developing a new traveller pitch is thought to be £112,128.

In a report published this week by the district council, it was stated that there is “increasing concern” for the welfare of a whole known traveller family, comprising four caravans, who have a local connection to the area and wish to stay.

This has, however, resulted in numerous “unauthorised encampments” in the Derbyshire Dales – 52 in the past five years – including 11 at the Temple Walk Car Park in Matlock Bath; 10 at the Station Car Park in Matlock Bath; and eight at the Agricultural Business Centre (ABC) in Bakewell.

Councils must provide a sufficient number of sites which could be used and cater for travellers for the next five years, with further potential sites for years six-to-10 and 11-15.

Derbyshire Dales must have six available pitches by 2019 and a further three by 2034.

The district council is now on the hunt for other suitable sites which could be adopted, while the freeze on adopting land around Ashbourne remains in place.

The well-known traveller family has been at the ABC since March 26, however the district council states that as many as 14 caravans have been present at the site in recent weeks.

The report, prepared for the district council’s community and environment committee, states that “the presence of travellers at the ABC cannot be tolerated any longer”.

It reads: “The district council must take such matters seriously and has therefore, taken the initiative to secure an order from the court which prevents persons other than the known traveller family, from residing at the ABC for a period of 12 months.

“However, the fact remains that whilst the district council is unable to meet its obligations in regard to the provision of pitches for gypsies and travellers, we will continue to experience unauthorised encampments across the district.

“There is, therefore, a pressing urgency to address this matter in the interests of the traveller family concerned and also in the interests of residents who are affected by unauthorised encampments.”