Council pledge £145k to move travellers

Staying?: Traveller Patty Linfoot at the site on Hut Lane
Staying?: Traveller Patty Linfoot at the site on Hut Lane

Chorley Council has earmarked £145,000 in a bid to force travellers off greenbelt land at Heath Charnoock.

The local authority says it intends to try to get seek an injunction to force the travellers off the land in Hut Lane.

The Linfoot and Boswell families moved onto the site two years ago and have been locked in a lengthy legal battle ever since to be allowed to stay.

Chorley Council, a planning inspector and the High Court have all rejected their application and now the council has commenced criminal proceedings at South Ribble Magistrates’ Court for an alleged breach of an enforcement notice.

Last Thursday the council’s Executive Cabinet discussed the matter and confirmed that they intended to seek an injunction to remove the travellers from the land.

Coun Alan Cullens, who oversees planning at Chorley Council, said: “The High Court ordered the travellers off the land at Hut Lane by June 24, but unfortunately they have failed to comply.

“The council has begun criminal proceedings and is awaiting a date for the case to be heard at crown court.

“However, these proceedings do not include forcing the travellers to leave. Therefore, last week, the council’s Development Control Committee authorised the council to seek an injunction as a way of removing the occupants.

“We have now agreed to set aside up to £145,000 to cover the cost of the legal work, site clearance and possibly any associated housing costs, if an injunction becomes necessary.”

The Guardian spoke to Mr Linfoot but the phone went dead before he was able to give a comment. Several subsequent calls were unanswered however in a previous interview he said he’d turned down offers of £100,000 to sell the land.

He has submitted a fresh application to be allowed to make the land his family’s permanent home and invited the Guardian to take pictures to show the land isn’t an eyesore.One resident, whose property backs onto the site, welcomed the action taken by the council.

He said: “There is a democratic process here and in accordance with that process the council said ‘no’ in August 2009, the public planning inquiry said ‘no’ in March 2010, the High Court judge said ‘no’ in September 2010, and gave ample time to leave. Yet the travellers remain on site. The development is inappropriate.”