Four travellers sites are expanding illegally, it has been claimed.
Planning officers at Basildon Council are investigating complaints from residents about suspected unauthorised developments at Hovefields Avenue site, Wickford, Cranfield Park Avenue and Harrow Road, both in North Benfleet, and Sadlers Farm, Bowers Gifford.
Residents fear Cranfield Park Avenue, now the borough’s second biggest site, is fast becoming another Dale Farm.And everyone can see it except those who are supposedly paid enormous salaries to prevent it:
One man,43, from Pound Lane, Bowers Gifford, who regularly travels past both the Sadlers Farm and Cranfield Park Avenue sites, said: “There are about 20 caravans on the site at Sadlers roundabout when the limit is supposed to be eight.
“They are taking the Mickey because on Monday they knocked down one of the outside walls and started laying hardcore, so they must be extending the boundary as well.”
He said several pitches were being developed in a field east of Cranfield Park Avenue, where there are already about 20 pitches. Meanwhile, at Hovefields, where a series of illegal sites were demolished between 2005 and 2010, the council has received reports one traveller is buying up land there and wants to expand the site which has 16 authorised pitches.
A woman, who also would not be named, said: “The council enforcement officer I reported it to said there was not much they could do anymore to stop this because there is a national shortage of sites and they need to build more anyway.”"Oh but wait!" you cry, "It's not the council's fault, it's the justice system for putting hurdles in their path!"
Although the Dale Farm eviction was successful, several stragglers from that eviction remain illegally camped in Oak Lane next to the neighbouring legal site.
The council has failed to move them on despite defeating all legal challenges in its way last year.Hmmm.
Last autumn the council, which has around 140 pitches already launched a consultation asking for owners of any land that could be suitable for new sites, or existing traveller sites that could be expanded to come forward. The ongoing study came after studies found the authority needs to provide between 170 and 240 more traveller pitches over the next 18 years.
Stuart Hardwick Carruthers, a former civil servant who helps travellers get planning permission, suspects the council will allow the new unauthorised developments to remain until the consultation is over and may eventually approve them.
He said: “With the council having to provide that sort of number of pitches, any that get built in the meantime without permission will just reduce the long-term requirement, so it is likely to be a nod and a wink and eventually they will get approved.”So they'll spend money on a consultation that will be ignored. Gosh. Why do people always fall for this?