BOURNEMOUTH could become a target for travellers this summer as the only area without an official transit site, it is feared.
If Dorset and Poole both have a site ready for this summer, Bournemouth will be the only place where police will not be able to use enforcement powers against illegal encampments.
There are hopes Bournemouth will eventually be able to share a site with either Poole or Dorset but at the moment the law states that enforcement powers “can only be used where vacant pitches on a traveller site are available within the same local authority area.”
Bournemouth Council leader John Beesley has ruled out the possibility of finding a suitable site within the borough.
Cllr Phil Eades, Mayor of Poole, said: “I honestly believe that if Poole complies with the legislation, travellers will stop coming here.
“They will go somewhere that hasn’t complied – like Bournemouth. The travellers know the law.”
Bournemouth Council leader Cllr John Beesley said it was “disappointing” that the government had not yet cchanged the law to allow Bournemouth to use sites in neighbouring council areas.
But he said they stood by their position that they did not have any acceptable sites.
“The record in Bournemouth has been very robust in making sure that we protect our car parks and open spaces as vigorously as we possibly can.
“We have very good intelligence on possible unauthorised encampments and if one occurs, council officers move swiftly to take the necessary legal action to move them on as soon as possible.”
Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns, above, said: “The fact that Bournemouth hasn’t got provision does mean that police won’t have the powers to move travellers on.
“However, even if we had provision and that was full, the police would still not have the powers to act against another illegal camp. “It leaves us in a disadvantaged position but then again we’ve done all the feasibility studies and none of the sites had any degree of public support.”
First application for Poole site is submitted
THE first planning application has been submitted for a controversial temporary stopping place for travellers at Creekmoor, Poole.
However, instead of going for the whole site at Marshes End, which can accommodate 27 pitches, the application is only for a part of it which will provide 12 pitches for travelling families and vehicles.
Borough of Poole says this is to “achieve delivery of the scheme this summer” at Safety Drive, next to the fire station.
And a second application for a site with four pitches off Broad-stone Way, north of the B&Q car park, has yet to be submitted.
Residents are invited to comment on the proposal and the application is likely to be considered by the council’s planning committee on March 20.
There will be a display of the application at Creekmoor Library on February 13 and 14 between 10am and 4.30pm and on the 15th from 10am to 1pm.
“We are aware of concerns raised by local residents and would encourage everyone to come along to the drop-in sessions and see for themselves the proposals, and submit any comments about the planning application to the planning department,” said Peter Haikin, regulatory services manager, Borough of Poole. The three Creekmoor councillors opposed the plans at cabinet and full council and residents have raised worries with them about being able to have their say.
“Residents will be attending as objectors to address the planning committee,” said Cllr Judy Butt.
“However, they have raised their concern that under the planning committee constitution all objectors only have four minutes to collectively speak, which they feel is not long enough to explain all the issues in such a publicly important application.”
The full application – APP/ 14/00123/F – can be viewed online at boroughofpoole.com If approved, the site would operate between Good Friday and September 14 and travellers would not be directed to it after September 1.
A residents’ meeting is due to be held at Creekmoor Community Centre on March 1, at 5pm to which MP Robert Syms, Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill and a representative of Dorset Police have been invited.
• POLICE and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill, pictured, is backing Poole council’s moves to establish temporary transit sites for travellers this summer.
He has spoken in favour of planning applications for sites at Marshes End, Creekmoor and on land north of the B&Q car park at Broadstone Way.
And he said a similar site set up by Dorset County Council in advance of the Dorset Steam Fair last year proved to be a success.
This year, Dorset County Council will seek planning permission for a five-year, temporary site at Piddlehinton.
Mr Underhill has now pledged to attend planning application hearings in both Poole and Dorset to voice his support for establishing the sites.
He said: “Without an appropriate site to move unauthorised camps on to, the police are acting with one arm tied behind their backs.
“Unless an alternative site exists the police cannot use their powers to move the travellers on.
“The traveller issue has become like Groundhog Day – every year they have nowhere to go so move to unauthorised sites.
“I will support any local authority that is trying to find a way to end last year’s stand-off and, along the way, increase police powers to deal with any unauthorised sites.”