Time you ruled on this, Mr Pickles! Decision on future of Thundersley traveller site is now six months overdue

Time you ruled on this, Mr Pickles!

Time you ruled on this, Mr Pickles!

First published in Echo News by

THE future of an illegal traveller site in Thundersley still remains unclear – six months after a Government ruling was expected.

MilesandMichaelMcCarthy set up the three-pitch site, on Janda Field,off FaneRoad,withoutplanning permission, then applied retrospectively.

Castle Point Council refused and the McCarthys appealed against thatdecision lastMay.

They expected Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to rule on the appeal by October 28, 2013.

However, with a decision still awaited, Bill Dick, Tory borough councillor for St Peter’s ward, thinks it’s time the uncertainty ended.

He said: “We’re still waiting to hear back. It’s not fair on the residentswholivearoundhereandare worried about this application.

They turned out to the appeal hearing. It’s also unfair on the applicants.

“To me the decision should be refusal. It’s an illegal site and that’s that.”

Duringapublic inquiry into the application, Government inspector Simon Hand admitted his department hadabacklogof traveller site cases.

Adelaybecameevenmorelikely last July, when it was announced theappealwasoneof 24suchcases “called in” over fears inspectors were not taking concerns about the green belt seriously enough.

At that stage, Mr Pickles was still promisingadecision by October.

Alison Heine, who represented the McCarthys, was recently asked to comment on planning guidance which could affect the appeal.

Inherresponse,shesaidshedidn’t think the new guidelines made any difference, adding: “It it most unsatisfactory appeal decisions have been delayed and withheld, some for overayear.

“The site occupants are homeless and have a strong personal need to be settled, including the education needs of young children.”

In February, Mr Pickles allowed travelling showmen in Warrington, Lancashire, to set up a legal site because of a lack of alternative sitesandthismayset a precedent for the Thundersley site.

The 2009 Essex Gipsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment suggested Castle Point still needed one more legal traveller pitch in the borough, in addition to two already allowed at OrchardPlace, onthe A127.

A spokesman for the Department forCommunities and Local Government could not say when a decision would be announced.

She added: “Ministers carefully consider all the evidence for called in cases as well as detailed representationsfromawiderange of parties.”

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