Council to evict Traveller from Derbyshire station as debate about permanent home goes on

Derbyshire Dales District Council is again moving to evict an unauthorised member of a Traveller encampment in Matlock as the debate continues about where others can be housed permanently.
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Some of those currently living in caravans at Matlock station have temporary permission to do so as the council has a legal duty to house them and is under Government instruction to ensure that Travellers be supported during the pandemic.

However, local residents have expressed concern after the number of caravans appeared to grow in recent weeks, just as it had at the start of the year when the council went to court to evict part of the group.

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A council spokesman confirmed a similar process was under way, saying: “There is one additional Traveller on the station car park and action has been started to evict him.”

The Traveller encampment at Matlock station has grown beyond its authorised number.The Traveller encampment at Matlock station has grown beyond its authorised number.
The Traveller encampment at Matlock station has grown beyond its authorised number.

The move is a sub-plot in a decades-long dispute over where in the district the council will fulfil its responsibility to provide permanent Traveller pitches.

In September, the Conservative administration approved proposals to develop a suitable site at Knabhall Lane, Tansley, despite opposition from village residents and representatives – and from the Travellers themselves.

The status of that site is still in limbo, with the council spokesman saying: “Ecological and land surveys continue and we don't yet have a timescale for submitting a planning application.”

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The preferred option for the family in question is a site near Clifton, on the outskirts of Ashbourne.

The Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group has recently submitted a planning application (20/00976/FUL) to convert a coal yard in the village but locals say the site in question is unsuitable and dangerous.

Spokesperson Siobhan Spencer claims the family’s situation is “desperate”, but the plans are again meeting local opposition, giving the council with more problems to solve.

The council spokesman said: “The application is proceeding through the planning process and we are conscious that this will need to be debated and determined in public.

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“At the moment we are exploring how we can do this in light of the recent High Court decision that has effectively prevented virtual meetings of the planning committee.”

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