Fight to stop 14 pitch travellers’ site between two two East Cambs villages may have scored decisive victory

A BATTLE against plans that could see a new gypsy and traveller site built between Fordham and Isleham looks to have scored a decisive victory.

Hundreds of residents across the two villagers petitioned East Cambridgeshire District Council after it emerged that the authority was considering earmarking land along Isleham Road for a new 14-pitch gypsy and traveller site.

The council has been looking at land across East Cambridgeshire which could potentially be included in its 20-year Local Plan as suitable for gypsy and travellers, with two sites in Fordham highlighted.

A series of public meetings were hastily convened in a bid to fight the plans however, and, at Victoria Hall in Fordham on Wednesday, more than 250 people turned out to have their say.

Now, with the support of Fordham councillors Joshua Schumann and Michael Allan, as well as backing from SE Cambs MP James Paice, the district council has announced it plans to look again at the proposal for the Fordham site.

Katie Child, principal forward planning officer at the district council, said: “Since the consultation on the proposed traveller sites was concluded, we have received significant correspondence from residents in the Fordham area.

“In recent days we have learnt that the owner of one of the proposed sites has indicated they are no longer willing to have their land - we are awaiting confirmation of this in writing.

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“The other site earmarked in the area may not meet the specifications which we require. All these issues will be taken into account and debated by councillors at the development and transport committee in November.”

MP James Paice, who attended the meeting in Fordham, said: “I am concerned that this site is not a suitable location as defined by the new Government guidelines. It is within open countryside and would be highly visible and, in addition, the primary schools in both Fordham and Isleham are full and could not offer places to any children who lived on the site.

Mr Paice added that he would be writing to the council to object to the plans.

A Fordham resident who also attended the meeting, but asked not to be identified, said: “This was all carried out very quietly by the council who hardly made anyone in the villages aware of what they were planning which upset a lot of people.

“The site is simply just not suitable, it has no drainage, no electricity and opens on to a 60mph road, it would cost thousands just to bring it up to scratch and there aren’t enough facilities in the villages to cope.”