Anger as cricket pitch off Braunstone Lane East in Aylestone joins list of possible traveller camps
Concerns have been raised about a new site that has emerged as a potential authorised camp for travellers and gypsies.
A plot of land on the edge of a Leicester City Council-owned cricket pitch off Braunstone Lane East, Aylestone, has been revealed as a possible location for a short-term stopping-off point for travellers.
The council is looking to increase the number of managed pitches in the city because it wants to prevent illegal camps springing up on roundabouts and verges.
There have been 115 illegal camps in Leicester since 2009, costing the city council hundreds of thousands of pounds to clear up.
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City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby this week confirmed a number of sites in the north of the city were believed to be suitable for permanent camps, joining the existing Meynells Gorse site, which has a long waiting list.
Those sites – Greengate Lane and Beaumont Way, in Beaumont Leys, and Red Hill Way, in Mowmacre Hill – have been subject to a long-running consultation and attracted fierce opposition.
This week, the mayor added the Braunstone Lane East site to the list, saying it could be used as a temporary, seasonal "stopping-off place" should the need arise.
Aylestone ward councillor Nigel Porter said he was angry that the site now suggested was not one of 350 originally considered by the council and consulted on.
He said: "Where was the consultation on this?
"This site has never been on the list before but suddenly here it is.
"Only one site in Aylestone was suggested and that was in Montrose Road.
"That got a lot of opposition and was dropped. This new idea will be just as unpopular.
"It's unfair this site has not been consulted on like the others.
"It is a sensitive site on the edge of Aylestone Meadows."
Sir Peter has said he will make a decision on whether to develop any of the three main sites early in the new year.
He said: "If – and it is a big if – a site such as Braunstone Lane East was to be considered there would be a fresh round of consultation.
"There is no question that I would try to slip in any new site without consultation."
The site is prone to flooding but Sir Peter said it would be used in good weather if the need arose and families would stay for up to 28 days.
Aylestone resident John Hayto said: "If it is such a short-term thing, I wouldn't object to but experience tells us that travellers sometimes stay at a place longer than they say they were going to. Then it becomes a problem.
"I think it will be very unpopular with people around here, though."
A similar short-stay site is being considered in Hoods Close, Beaumont Leys.
The LE4 Action Group collected 2,700 signatures on a petition against the sites in the north of the city, although about 2,000 of the names were discounted because they were of people living the other side of the city boundary in places such as Birstall.
Group spokesman Roy Rollings said: "We are not surprised the mayor has confirmed the sites as suitable.
"He hasn't really listened to the reasons we don't think they are right. We will fight them when they go up for planning permission."