NEW action to evict a family of travellers from greenbelt land in Chorley is set to cost taxpayers an extra £40,000.
The council had already pledged more than £100,000 to pay for the long-running battle over the site in Heath Charnock, but planning chiefs now face a third public inquiry.
The move comes after a High Court judge quashed a planning inspectors’ earlier decision to refuse temporary planning permission for the family to keep eight caravans on the land in Hut Lane.
The traveller behind the action, Mike Linfoot, has condemned the costs and has called on Chorley Council to re-think its actions.
He said: “It seems like a complete waste of money.
“The Government has set aside a new fund to pay for traveller pitches which could create a permanent site for us to live on.
“We are not determined to stay in Hut Lane, but we do want to stay in Chorley as our children are settled in school.
“We have asked the leaders of the council to meet with us so that we can discuss options that wouldn’t cost them a penny, but they insist on carrying on with the court cases and inquiries.
“Instead of spending more money, we could be coming up with plans which would make everyone happy.”
Coun Alistair Bradley said: “It’s not the council that is wasting the money, it is the families failing to comply with planning law by setting up home on green belt land that are costing local taxpayers all this money.
“We have a responsibility to take action on this breach of planning regulation to prevent a precedent being set for others in the future and we have a social and moral duty to residents to uphold the law.
“This action has backing from all political parties in Chorley and we will continue to take action as we are adamant this development should not be allowed in the greenbelt.
“We have been approached to support a bid to the fund for the Hut Lane site but this is illegal development in the green belt so of course we would not support this.
“The council’s position is that there is no evidenced need at the moment for a traveller site within the borough so we do not need to provide one.
“If Mr Linfoot had taken a site forward that was not in the green belt, he may have gained permission in the usual way.”