This evening I witnessed people power at Bedford Borough Planning Committee, attended by 500 angry local residents objecting to a planning application for a travellers' site in Bletsoe.
Conservative Councillors and Alistair Burt MP supported their stance and planning permission was refused. The Government requires Bedford Borough Council to find 15 permanent traveller pitches by February 2011 so suitable sites will have to be found soon to stop the plague of unauthorised traveller encampments across the Borough.
Abbeyfields Estate in Elstow has been invaded twice recently by travellers, one a group of 25 caravans, leaving 3 huge piles of rubbish behind them. As they parked on David Wilson Homes land I was able to move them on quickly with help from Guy our very helpful local Police Beat Manager and DWH Bailiffs, but it takes much longer to move them on from Council owned land.
We have persuaded David Wilson Homes to put wooden barriers across the four entrances to the Abbeyfields footpath to discourage them from any return visits.
We already have one local travellers' site at Kempston Hardwick and the Planners are now actively looking for more suitable sites to house small clusters of caravans.
Watch this space.