Newent travellers seek permission to stay put

By Carmelo Garcia in Local People

SQUATTERS who have been living on a former council depot in Newent for more than ten years are applying for permission to stay there.

The travellers moved onto the Old Council Depot on Horsefair Lane in 2006 when Gloucestershire County Council, who leased the site at the time, allowed them a year-long camp.

But ever since, local residents and parish councils have opposed the occupation and say the Forest of Dean District Council has ignored their pleas.

Newent Mayor Eddie Wood said: “It’s council-owned land and the authority needs travellers sites and have been ignoring this issue.”

Last month, resident Kevin Morgan declared that he had continuously occupied the site since 2006 and that no third party had challenged his right to occupy the area.

But in an article in The Forester dated November 30, 2006 then town councillor Eddie Wood and local resident Brian Oakley objected to the occupation and Cllr Wood said the decision to allow the travellers onto the site was ‘appalling’.

Councillor Craig Lawton (Conservative, Oxenhall & Newent North East), whose ward the site falls within, said: “The travellers have essentially been squatting at the site they have no formal permission to stay there.

“When I asked if I could call in the decision to let the travellers stay there I was told that this was not possible as no decision was ever made to let them live there in the first place.”

A spokesperson for the Forest of Dean District Council said: “A significant amount of work has been carried out to reduce risk at the site. At present it remains a tolerated site.”

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