Travellers reveal injunction plan
TRAVELLERS occupying a former gypsy site in Colchester hope to get an injunction preventing their eviction by force, it has emerged.And this week the town's MP Bob Russell is due to visit them in the Hythe encampment they set up last month.
TRAVELLERS occupying a former gypsy site in Colchester hope to get an injunction preventing their eviction by force, it has emerged.
And this week the town's MP Bob Russell is due to visit them in the Hythe encampment they set up last month.
Members of the Ward family, who occupy the six caravans, have said they want to stay in Colchester until Essex County Council sets up a municipal facility for them to stay at.
The former travellers' site they are occupying has been redesignated part of a regeneration zone and is currently in a poor and dilapidated condition.
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It was closed four years ago after suffering extensive damage and vandalism and has remained vacant ever since.
However, a decision regarding the relocation of the site was protracted by public protest by residents who did not want it near their homes.
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After a site was designated on land close to Severalls Lane the county council is now expected to apply for planning permission to build the facility.
Liberal Democrat Mr Russell has said he will visit the travellers at Haven Road, The Hythe, to discuss their campaign for legal places to live and education for their children.
"This site was shut down four years ago," said Mr Russell. "They have been dragging their feet about opening a new one to replace it.
"I despair at the lack of political leadership from both Colchester Borough Council and Essex County Council in dealing with resolving an issue which frankly should have been dealt with years ago.
"It is unfair on everybody involved that they just simply can't come to a conclusion which will ensure the community, police and everybody involved is confronted with."
Mr Russell said he believed land must be set aside for more council and private-ownership mobile-home parks.
Starting with the stand made by 85 families who own land at Dale Farm, Basildon, the campaign in Essex is now rapidly broadening.
Yard-owners at nearby Hovesfield Avenue, like those at Dale Farm, have obtained the protection of a High Court injunction preventing their eviction by force.
"We are going to court on Tuesday," said the Colchester travellers' spokesman Martin Ward,
at the Hythe site.
"Hopefully we can get a similar injunction and maybe a judicial review."
The group has applied for legal aid through the Community Law Partnership, in Birmingham, who have agreed to take up their case.
Essex County Council is applying initially for re-possession of the land.
Peter Martin, Essex cabinet member with responsibility for travellers' sites, was not available for comment yesterday.
But Christopher Arnold, Colchester Borough Council's cabinet member with that responsibility, said: "We have identified a site and are waiting for a planning application.
"This is a national problem and the Government should have dealt with it much sooner than it did, and it is something that Colchester's MP should perhaps be dealing with in Parliament rather than attacking local councils."