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Summer site for travellers to open within a week
A SUMMER-ONLY site for travellers in Dorset is set to open within a week.
It will give authorities more powers when dealing with travelling groups as they will now be able to direct them to the site at Piddlehinton.
The announcement comes days after a group of travellers set up an unauthorised camp on Weymouth’s park and ride site at Mount Pleasant.
The group has now left and ‘hasn’t settled anywhere else in Dorset,’ the county council said.
The authority came in for criticism last week over how it dealt with the situation, allowing the group to stay for a week.
County councillor for Westham David Harris said it was ‘frustrating’ and added ‘if I parked there for a week without a ticket I’d expect a heavy fine.’ DCC said it had received no reports of litter in the wake of the travellers at Mount Pleasant.
The council’s planning committee gave permission for the temporary transit site at Piddlehin-ton last month.
It said the site, which is close to the business park, would only be given the go-ahead if CCTV cameras were bought and installed and the site will be operational once 24-hour security is provided.
The cameras are being put up at the entrance to the business park to give reassurance to firms.
The site was used during the 2012 Olympic sailing events and will have pitches for 25 caravans with access to toilet facilities and fresh water.
The site will be open between March and August each year.
Cabinet Member for Environment Peter Finney said: “It’s a real step forward that we’re able to open this site and provide somewhere for gypsies and travellers to make temporary stops.
“We are the first authority in wider Dorset to provide a site like this.”
He added: “This is an emotive issue on both sides but, as we saw during the Olympics, having a designated site allows us to manage any issues which arise more quickly and efficiently.”
Without a transit site, councils need to seek a court order to move people on from unauthorised camps, which can take some time.
County councillor David Man-nings, who represents Lodmoor, said the temporary traveller site was very good news.
He said: “The police are able to move them on now.
“We hope we won’t get them staying here anymore.
“It’s got 24-hour security. By next week it should all be okay.
“Myself and another councillor were insistent on it to make sure it’s secure for residents.”
Meanwhile, county councillor David Harris who represents Westham, said: “What happened here in Weymouth was a little bit of a stimulus and they are making progress.
“I’m looking forward to when the site opens officially.”
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