TRAVELLERS at the centre of a long-running dispute over land in Chorley have offered the council an ‘olive branch.’
Mike Linfoot, whose family has illegally occupied land in Hut Lane, Heath Charnock, for more than four years, appeared in court in this week after the authority took legal action to finally remove his family from the caravan site.
But, the father-of-three, offered an eleventh hour agreement which would see them move off without court action if their controversial planning application fails a third public inquiry.
His wife Patty said: “We asked the council to stop the trail which was planned for March and signed an undertaking that we will move off the land within three months if we lose the planning inquiry.
“It is a big decision for us because if we don’t get planning permission this time then we will be homeless - it will be the end of the road for us.
“For us it’s not about the planning, it’s about our children and their future and this is our home.
“We hope by coming to this agreement, we will save taxpayers money which would have been spent on the five day trial.” The council has set aside more than £150,000 to fund the legal battle to remove the family from the land.
Their latest action, at Burnley Crown Court, was to impose an injunction on Mr Linfoot requiring him to leave the land and return it to its original state.
Dave Jones, whose home neighbours the site, said: “Our concern is that the travellers continue to show a complete contempt for the law of the land.
“They are illegally living on green belt land and we are having to fight a third public inquiry because of a technicality.
“As residents, we remain united with the council in fighting this issue.”
Leader of Chorley Council, Coun Alistair Bradley, said: “The council continues to be of the view that this development is inappropriate for greenbelt land and this is just another step in the court process.
“We had applied to the court for an injunction for Mr Linfoot to leave the site, and we were expecting to go to trial later in March.
“Mr Linfoot offered to agree to that order now, but with the terms not to be enforced until three months after the outcome of the next planning inquiry. We have agreed to this as it was the likely order to be made by the court anyway.
“The next step is another planning inquiry to re-determine the last appeal, as that last appeal decision was quashed by the courts.
“We will be defending the council’s position, which has been supported by the decision of two previous planning inspectors, as we remain adamant this development is inappropriate for the greenbelt.”