HYNDBURN council is ready to spend thousands of pounds installing fences, and low walls, to prevent travellers’ caravans gaining access to the borough’s parks and green spaces.
Deputy leader Clare Pritchard revealed that the authority has a list of areas where the barriers will put up as its ruling cabinet authorised spending up to £30,000 sealing off the Bolton Avenue recreation ground, in Huncoat.
She said similar schemes involving low walls, or “bunding”, at Park Road, in Great Harwood, and fencing at Knuzden recreation ground, to stop unauthorised veh-icle access and traveller encampments had been a success.
Coun Pritchard said the ‘hit and miss’ fencing at Bolton Avenue, Huncoat, was therefore a good investment as staff costs to remove encampments can be between £3,000 and £6,000 a time.
She said the spending from the council’s ‘invest to save’ budget should put an end to regular problems in the area with illegal encampments, and secure the pitches at Huncoat United Junior FC on the recreation ground which had been subject to an illegal encampment this summer.
After complaints from residents and local MP Graham Jones, Hyndburn Council won a court order to remove the travellers.
Tory councillor Marlene Howarth backed the latest move in Huncoat, but asked: “Could we not use the ‘invest to save’ budget to put up barriers around other green spaces in Hyndburn which are subject to travellers’ encampments?”
Coun Pritchard said: “We do have a list of sites where we intend to put this fencing in the next few years as finance allows. This has proved very effective, but we are not talking about any one community. It is about preventing illegal access to our green spaces.”
The cabinet also approved landscaping the bunding walls at Park Road, Great Harwood, to further establish it as valuable open green space.
After the meeting Coun Pritchard declined to reveal the list of future sites for fencing or ‘bunding’ off.
She added that as well as the cost of taking legal action to move travellers, and enforce court orders, there were costs involved in clearing up litter and debris.