`Living hell' for residents - Burns

THE occupation of acres of green fields in the Chelmsford area two years' ago by travellers was described in the House of Commons as "a living hell" for residents of the area.

By Graham Dines

THE occupation of acres of green fields in the Chelmsford area two years' ago by travellers was described in the House of Commons as "a living hell" for residents of the area.

West Chelmsford Conservative MP Simon Burns branded the situation in Cranham Road, Little Waltham, "disgraceful"

The travellers had moved onto the land – yet 150 metres due east there was an official Essex county council controlled travellers' park.


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Mr Burns told MPs: "In 2001, the land was taken over by travellers, who sited mobile homes and established hard standings and roadways. It is now covered with caravans, other vehicles, rubble and rubbish.

"Since 2001, further homes have been placed on the land. There has been alleged tampering with electricity junction boxes, which has caused problems with the electricity supply to bona fide customers in the area.

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"There have been problems with noise, fly tipping, poor sanitation, and discharges of waste into the nearby ditch. The site has also been used for storing stolen goods, which were recovered only following a police raid."

Mr Burns said the land had now been divided into 20 ownerships.

Two enforcement notices had been served by Chelmsford borough council in December 2001 and on December 4 last year, the council was granted injunctions for the land to be vacated. "Nothing has changed and the occupation of the land is in breach of that court injunction."

He asked the Home Office to intervene because "those who perpetuate the abuse are cocking a snook at the authorities and laughing that they are getting away with something that I cannot believe the minister would want to continue."

Replying, Tony McNulty, parliamentary under-secretary of State in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, refused to discuss the problems of Cranham Road because it remained a legal dispute before the courts and possible planning applications on the land could "cross my desk or that of a colleague as the final arbiter in an appeal process."

But he assured Mr Burns: "Without commenting on the specific case, I would say that dividing any land into 20 portions owned by different people does not obviate the need to comply in full with planning law and the local planning process."

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