No resting place
PUBLISHED: 17:21 17 September 2008 | UPDATED: 10:07 23 August 2010
PLANS to move eight traveller families occupying green belt land to an alternative site, placing naval veterans club at risk of closure have been slammed. The families have been based at a site in Whitepost Lane, Sole Street, Cobham, for the last three y
PLANS to move eight traveller families occupying green belt land to an alternative site, placing naval veterans club at risk of closure have been slammed.
The families have been based at a site in Whitepost Lane, Sole Street, Cobham, for the last three years.
At a Gravesham Borough Council cabinet meeting on Monday a planning application was put forward for a new site at Brookvale, Springhead Road, Northfleet.
But Labour councillors for Northfleet and Gravesend West, Leslie Christie and Ray Parker, strongly oppose the move.
"They claim it will take up much needed green space and could mean the closure and demolition of the Royal Naval Association club and football changing rooms for Springhead Park.
Mr Christie said: "The proposed site it next to the local cemetery, very close to sheltered housing, surrounded by dense housing and will mean the removal of the Royal Naval Association Club which has been there for 30 years.
"There is a scarcity of green space in urban Gravesham, recent months have seen the loss of green space and sports facilities to make room for the new police station. Why should the naval veterans lose their club after their loyal service to the country?"
Gravesham Borough Council took enforcement action against the families in 2006. They appealed the decision but a hearing was adjourned after an agreement was reached for the families to move in October this year.
A site was identified and the travellers were then contacted, but they have yet to accept the offer. If they do not move by the end of next month, the council have warned they will take enforcement action.
Mr Parker said: "The proposal to move them to Northfleet is outrageous. All over Northfleet open space is disappearing as Ebbsfleet is developed and thousands of houses are being built."
But council leader Mike Snelling said: "The previous Labour administration spent over £30,000 of council taxpayers' cash on legal action in 2006 to remove travellers from the Green Belt site that they had occupied in Cobham. They were given until 1st October this year to move.
"This was on the premise that Gravesham Council would find them an alternative site - but when I became Leader in May 2007 it was apparent that this was 'outstanding business'.
"A search of available council owned land revealed that the only possible site was that at Brookvale.
"Failure to resolve this difficult problem would be a betrayal of the cash and effort already expended on behalf of all Gravesham residents.