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Protesters march on council office to oppose plans for temporary travellers’ site

PUBLISHED: 17:12 12 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:12 12 October 2017

The protest against the temporary travellers' site in Bideford this afternoon (Thursday).

The protest against the temporary travellers' site in Bideford this afternoon (Thursday).

Archant

Angry protesters gathered in Bideford this afternoon (Thursday) to oppose plans for a temporary travellers’ site in Bank End car park.

Dozens of protestors gathered outside council offices in Bideford today (Thursday) to rally against plans for a temporary travellers’ site.

Residents and business owners gathered with placards for a peaceful protest against the temporary site at Bank End.

They were supported by Bideford mayor Dermot McGeough, and deputy mayor Doug Bushby, who are both against the plans.

The protest against the temporary travellers' site in Bideford this afternoon (Thursday). The protest against the temporary travellers' site in Bideford this afternoon (Thursday).

The lack of public consultation, fears over littering and safety, and the fact the site is in the centre of town were just some of the issues aired by the crowd.

TDC’s head of paid services, Jenny Wallace, and customer support manager, Simon Toon, addressed the protest and took questions.

Mr McGeough, who is also a district councillor for Bideford North but attended in his role as mayor, said he was the only one on the TDC committee to vote against the proposals.

The protest against the temporary travellers' site in Bideford this afternoon (Thursday). The protest against the temporary travellers' site in Bideford this afternoon (Thursday).

He said: “I feel very passionately about this and I don’t agree with the site being in this car park.

“If it’s going to be in Bideford I feel it should be at Caddsdown.

“We do not advertise our riverside as much as we should do. It’s your land and you must fight for it - and I am right behind you.”

The protest against the temporary travellers' site in Bideford this afternoon (Thursday). The protest against the temporary travellers' site in Bideford this afternoon (Thursday).

Mr McGeough also said he would be handing a petition against the site, so far signed by around 200 people, in at the next TDC full council meeting.

The decision to earmark the site temporarily for travellers was taken at a community and resources committee meeting in August, on the recommendations of a working group including councillors and officers.

There was no consultation with the town council or public before the decision was made.

The protest against the temporary travellers' site in Bideford this afternoon (Thursday). The protest against the temporary travellers' site in Bideford this afternoon (Thursday).

Ms Wallace and Mr Toon confirmed the Environment Agency had not been consulted on the use of the riverside site.

Mr Bushby said: “I’ve seen travellers in the cattle market changing car engines before; if they do that next to the river then we’ve got pollution issues and that’s a serious issue.”

Protesters asked why council leader Jane Whittaker was not in attendance, and were told she was in a ‘pre-arranged meeting’.

The protest against the temporary travellers' site in Bideford this afternoon (Thursday). The protest against the temporary travellers' site in Bideford this afternoon (Thursday).

Ms Wallace said she had been requested to take contact details of the protest organisers to arrange a further meeting.

The Gazette has contacted Torridge District Council for comment.

The protest against the temporary travellers' site in Bideford this afternoon (Thursday). The protest against the temporary travellers' site in Bideford this afternoon (Thursday).

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