Fury at travellers’site proposal

A travellers site.
A travellers site.

PROPOSALS by Barnsley Council to develop a new travellers’ site at Darfield have sparked a residents’ revolt.

An angry crowd spilled in to Wombwell Library on Friday to voice disgust at the possibility of a Doncaster Road ‘Longbow’ site being used to accommodate travellers.

A travellers’ representative also turned up with traveller families who wanted more information.

If carried forward, the site would be the third such facility in the area, with established major sites currently at Ings Road, Wombwell, and Burntwood Cottages, Great Houghton.

Friday’s meeting was for local people to question officers about the Local Development Framework that will guide development in Barnsley up to 2026. The consultation lasts until the end of September.

Wombwell Coun Dick Wraith said the library was packed but added: “It wasn’t the time or place to address this issue. If the proposal is followed up then there should be a public meeting, but the site may not be suitable anyway.”

Barnsley Council must provide 39 more traveller pitches before 2016 to satisfy government requirements - but Wombwell and Darfield folk say their area already has its quota. There are major concerns about the potential loss of the ‘green lung’ that surrounds Darfield.

Darfield Coun Brian Key himself considers the site “totally unsuitable.” He said: “Many people have approached me about this.

“The land concerned is in two private ownerships and may not meet the criteria specified for transient travellers’ sites. It is exposed and by a main road, and would encroach on to land that forms a natural green belt between Ardsley and Darfield. All previous applications there have been rejected. We want to remain a village and not become an urban conurbation.”

He continued: “People are objecting for sound reasons. I am calling two public meetings to ensure everyone gets their say, and to mount our own proposal to be presented to planners.”

The first meeting will take place on September 6 from 6pm at Illsley Road Community Centre, Darfield, for the purpose of listing why the proposed site is not suitable. Then on September 15 from 10.30am at the same venue, a full public meeting will take place to discuss ways to move forward with objections.

Coun Linda Burgess of Barnsley Council said: “Under the government’s Gypsy and Traveller Policy Statement all local councils, including Barnsley, have a statutory requirement to demonstrate they have a five-year supply of sites that will meet the level of demand. To meet this requirement, the Development Sites and Places Document Plan sets out proposals for two additional sites at Shaw Lane, Carlton and Doncaster Road, Darfield

“During the consultation period all interested parties will be invited to express their views, primarily via our online consultation system. Those views will then be considered before the final document is agreed in 2013.”