Travellers ‘are ignoring rules’

The public enquiry at St. George's Church Hall in St Annes
The public enquiry at St. George's Church Hall in St Annes
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TRAVELLERS have shown “a complete disregard” for the law in setting up home in a Fylde field without permission, according to local MPs.

Both Wyre MP Ben Wallace and Fylde MP Mark Menzies have slammed the group for ignoring planning laws when they moved on to land off Fairfield Road, Staining, in November 2009.

The two MPs spoke at day four of a public inquiry into the actions of the travellers, with Mr Wallace defending constituents and telling the inquiry the travellers had “a deliberate intention to break the law”.

The site is in Fylde, but many of those affected live in neighbouring Wyre.

Mr Wallace told the inquiry: “My constituents are not racist, they are reasonable, law-abiding people. They, like all of us, are concerned with the rule of law which applies to us all equally.”

And he said the travellers had deliberately thwarted planning laws and ignored enforcement orders.

He added: “It didn’t matter what happened to the rights of my other constituents in that process.”

The travellers are appealing after Fylde Council refused to give planning permission for the site and sought an enforcement notice requiring them to leave and return the land to its original condition.

Mr Menzies, who said retrospective planning applications after the fact led to “chaos and disaster”, told the inquiry: “I met with local residents who voiced very strong objections about the formation of the site.

“It was felt a complete disregard for planning laws, as well as the environment, had been clearly demonstrated.

“There has been a flagrant abuse of the planning system.”

Both MPs – who said the site should be refused – denied there was any need for a traveller site in Fylde, despite hearing Blackpool had no space to fill its requirements.

Mr Wallace said: “I think Blackpool had need identified and that’s a matter for Blackpool.”

The final day of the inquiry is now scheduled to be heard in March.