ANGRY residents campaigning against plans to put a travellers’ site near their homes have met with senior councillors to plead their case.
Council leader Cllr Stephen MacLoughlin and cabinet members Cllr Bob Chapman and Cllr Jane Montrose were among those that met with concerned Westbourne residents.
The proposed site is a patch of council-owned land at Cambridge Road and Suffolk Road, which is currently used as a contractors’ compound.
But its close proximity to the town centre, Bournemouth Gardens, a children’s play area and several blocks of flats has sparked a wave of protest.
An online petition against the plans has already attracted over 1,000 signatures and residents are planning a protest on the steps of the town hall before a crucial cabinet meeting on Wednesday, June 24.
On Monday, June 22, dozens of residents gathered in Westbourne at a protest meeting.
Max Clarke, who is organising the opposition, said: “People are confused as to why our Conservative administration is trying to push this through when it’s against national Conservative policy and it’s bad for the town.
“It was good that councillors took the time to hear our concerns but there are fears it is a done deal. That’s why we need to fight as hard as we can now.
“This is not the right site. It’s in a bottleneck, it’s near a busy dual carriageway, it’s noisy. It’s not fair either on travellers or on residents.”
Cllr Stephen MacLoughlin said: “The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) gave Bournemouth Council very little notice of its deadline of the end of June for the submission of applications. The council accelerated its process for selecting a preferred site.
“This has resulted in the report and recommendations to cabinet on June 24. However, one of the recommendations allows for consultation with local residents who live near Suffolk Road/Cambridge Road if the funding application is likely to be successful.
“If cabinet agrees to progress the submission, planning permission will be required, confirmation from the HCA that they will fund the site and public consultation will need to take place.
“We have already received a significant amount of useful feedback from the public following the consultations for the previous two proposed sites at Millhams and Riverside Avenue.
“We have taken this feed- back on board, particularly about the desire for a site to have effective security and we will continue to listen to the public to ensure the site will be properly managed.”
The petition is online at gopetition.co.uk. People can also email comments or questions to nobournemouthtravellersite @hotmail.co.uk.