Battle lines drawn over vote on £1.2m travellers' camp project faces

PLANS for a £1.2m travellers' camp near Cottingham which have attracted opposition will be discussed by councillors tomorrow.

East Riding Council secured funding from the last Government to refurbish and extend the existing 10 pitch facility to 20 pitches at Eppleworth.

Supporters of the plan say it is needed to replace outdated facilities and that it will accommodate families who have been forced to double up on pitches.

However arguments against range from spoiling the look of the countryside to increasing sewerage problems in Cottingham.

Both Cottingham and Skidby parish councils have objected to the plans which will be discussed by the East Riding Council's planning committee next week.

The clerk to Skidby Parish Council, Philip Wharton, said: "In planning terms we consider it will be an intrusion into what is considered an area of high landscape value.

"Just half a mile from where the extension is proposed an application for a stable was turned down within the last two years as being intrusive and that was for a timber stable which you'd think would fit into the countryside.

"The present travellers site is within a quarry and isn't visible really. It is tucked away. The residents are part of the community and I don't think anyone has any objection to what is there now. The extension is outside the quarry and is visible."

East Riding councillor Ros Jump said no one wanted travellers to live in third world conditions, but Yorkshire Water had to "bite the bullet" and deal with the problem of putting more sewage into mains which already couldn't cope.

She said: "What concerns me and a lot of residents is they are now proposing to put effluent sewage into the main Cottingham system which is full.

"There have been cases of people on Eppleworth Road being flooded by sewage.

"It is not fair to Cottingham residents. Yorkshire Water should bite the bullet and say we need more capacity in Cottingham first – but they won't because they know it is a Pandora's box."

However, Lindsey Jones who runs a Lottery-funded project, Hidden Voices, which fights for the rights of the traveller community, said the new facility was "absolutely necessary" and the council had to address overcrowding.

She said: "I understand some councillors went to the site on Monday. The residents are getting very anxious that it won't go ahead because there's too much opposition.

"They are having to go into the field next door, it does run along the roadside but it is covered by a hedge

"It could easily be screened and done in a way that wouldn't cause problems.

"You can't have all these families sharing one or two showers. It is ridiculous. You have to do something about the overcrowding. Some of the caravans are situated so close together there's a real fire hazard.

"The money has been given by the Government to do this. People are objecting and saying the money should be spent on something else But is has to be spent on that purpose or given back."

The extension would provide ten new permanent pitches, each with its own amenity block, and the existing pitches would be refurbished. Currently there are three shower blocks – only two of which are working, and there are problems with the hot water supply.

Officers say the landscape shouldn't be spoiled as long as proposed landscaping is put in. They are recommending approval subject to conditions.

Yorkshire Water said they believed the mains system could cope with the extra sewage.

A spokesman accepted that there had been problems in Cottingham and that they had jetted sewers in the area recently.

He added: "If there are any problems that materialise we'd like to reassure residents that we will deal with them accordingly."