October 27th, 2016

Gypsy site proposals at Leamington Campion Hills dropped

Updated: 12:03 pm, Apr 06, 2016

A CONTROVERSIAL proposal for a permanent camp for gypsies and travellers on Leamington’s Campion Hills has been dropped – without explanation.

Warwick District Council own the land off Black Lane in Lillington and had earmarked it as a potential site to provide 15 permanent pitches.

The council’s Executive committee was expected to discuss the matter tonight but the matter was pulled from the agenda this morning.

Council leader Andrew Mobbs said: “The Executive have agreed that the Gypsy and Traveller Site Identification Update report due to be considered at their meeting tonight, with the recommendation that a public consultation process should be commenced in respect of a potential site at Campion Hills, Leamington, should be withdrawn.

“Officers will instead be requested to investigate potential alternative options and provide an update to a future meeting.

“The Campion Hills proposal will now not be pursued.”

The Campion Hill proposal infuriated residents.

Speaking before the council dropped the proposal, Jerry Weber, chair of Warwick & Leamington Labour Party, said: “Last Sunday, up to 50 residents packed into the Somerville Arms. The overwhelming view was that it was not only the wrong site for local residents but also a poor option for the gypsy and traveller community.

“All local councillors of all three political parties are opposed to the scheme and the campaign to ensure that this mistaken proposal does not take place is being run on non-party political lines.

“We will lose a fantastic view of Leamington and Warwick unsurpassed in the area, as well as the loss of an urban public open space. The area is used by people exercising their dogs as well as people walking towards Newbold Comyn. Local schools will not be able to cope with the influx of pupils, and last but not least, it is a precious piece of Green Belt land in the heart of urban Leamington.”

The Campion Hills suggestion came somewhat out of the blue. Sites at Leamington Football Club, Oaklands Farm near Hatton, and land off the Fosse Way had also been considered as potential sites – but are all set to be ruled out for reasons including the cost of buying land, green-belt status and opposition from nearby residents and businesses.

Land off Europa Way was also in the running to provide up to eight temporary pitches for those passing through but potential plans to widen the main road have forced the council to reconsider.

A total of 31 permanent pitches have to be provided by the council.

The council’s decision on sites has not been helped by no one wanting them on their doorstep following a spate of problems with illegal encampments in the district.

Last month, businesses in Leamington were angered when some 50 caravans and other vehicles parked up on Spartan Close, off Tachbrook Park Drive, for over a week. They complained of customers being intimidated and youngsters trying to steal from stores.

And in the past week travellers brought further disruption to the district.

The Newbold Comyn Arms was forced to shut early on Thursday evening after a group parked their caravans in the pub’s car park. Police were called and the travellers moved on the following morning.

And the Tenpin Bowling’s car park was taken over by six caravans on Friday – not for the first time – but the Tachbrook Park Drive business managed to continue operating.