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Residents concerned over traveller site possibilities

Worries over plans for a single West Lancashire site along M58 corridor

Proposed site for travellers on White Moss Road South, Skelmersdale

Local residents have raised their concerns over plans to put all the new pitches needed for travellers in West Lancashire on one site in Skelmersdale.

Last week the Advertiser reported how cabinet members endorsed the recommendations made in the report, Provision for Traveller Sites Development Plan Document: Options And Preferred Options.

 Two of the other “preferred” sites were initially on Sugar Stubbs Lane in Banks and Pool Hey Lane in Scarisbrick. 

But councillors went against the recommendations in the report and did not approve it for public consultation.

They decided that the assistant director  of planning should explore the possibility of identifying a single deliverable site in a suitable and sustainable location in White Moss Road along the M58 corridor to meet the borough’s identified needs for travelling communities, excluding travelling show people, up to 2028.

The council has been ordered by the government to find 20 new pitches by 2028. If it refuses to identify a suitable site it would be limited in its ability to stop travellers setting up wherever they wanted.

The cabinet made the decision because the sites identified in the report as preferred sites for travellers were in the Green Belt, and members were concerned about the cumulative loss of Green Belt throughout the borough by having several sites.

They believed it would be better to have one site, as this would minimise the impact on the Green Belt.

Given that the council would now be looking to have a single site for travelling communities,  they felt this should be along the M58 corridor to make it easily accessible and to have the least impact on the non-travelling community.

However a concerned resident who lives near the existing M58 site said: “I am disgusted the borough council are trying to send all the travellers to Skem. The provision needed should be spread equally among all of the areas.

“It is complete crime against our town, that the sites at Scarisbrick, Banks and Burscough are being disregarded in favour of having the full provision in Skelmersdale.”

As a result of the cabinet’s decision the development plan document will not go out to consultation in April – May 2014. This means that there are currently no sites earmarked as preferred options for the travelling communities.

Labour councillor Neil Furey said: “We are not happy with the cabinet’s decision and we’ve called it in to scrutiny committee on April 3.  This means that no action will be taken until the decision has been considered by the committee.

“We believe that the original recommendations the officers suggested in the report are the right ones for West Lancashire and will be arguing as such.”

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