A MULTI-PRONGED campaign aims to force the council to back down over its plans for a Gypsy and Traveller site in a rural community.

Saughall residents have formed a plan to fight proposals at the council-owned Oakwood Farm in Parkgate Road, which is on Green Belt land.

But Tory-led Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) says it must increase the number of official pitches to lend strength to its argument when fighting unauthorised sites.

About 150 residents packed the Vernon Institute last Friday and several ideas are coming forward to put pressure on the authority.

This includes setting up a fighting fund, with £10,000 already pledged by businesses, to hire London-based lawyers to mount a legal challenge to the council. Other elements include:

Everyone wearing green ribbons to symbolise the loss of greenbelt

Gathering a 1,500-name petition to force a full council debate and signing a petition on the CWaC website

Complaining to the Local Government Ombudsman about the process because the greenbelt location was not among consultant’s recommendations

Organising a family-oriented picnic protest at the farm.

Businessman Steve Buckley, of Saughall, who runs Westminster Packing, says he and other businesses are threatening to move out of the area because of security concerns.

He aims to ‘make life as awkward as possible’ for the council and may rent out static caravans on his fields to people on the housing waiting list.

He said: “Why is it one law for taxpayers and another law for people who don’t pay tax?”

Campaigner Michael Cowle, who runs a Saughall-based mini-bus taxi firm, said: “We have been round Mollington, a predominately Conservative area and feeling is running high against the Conservative-led council, most people saying they would not vote for them again.”

Mr Cowle said residents feel there are more suitable brownfield sites cited by the council’s consultants.

A council spokeswoman said all issues raised would be reviewed as part of the planning application process.

Meanwhile, Saughall and Mollington councillor Brian Crowe has described as ‘very sad’ comments made by his own Tory leader Mike Jones and council chief executive Steve Robinson about him and former colleague Andrew Storrar.

The remarks were caught on camera during a recess at the last executive meeting when the Traveller site issue was being debated but later removed from the council podcast.

A council spokeswoman said Cllr Jones was simply reacting to Cllr Crowe’s claim the authority was not open and transparent when there would be a full consultation as part of the planning application process.

Mr Robinson is understood to have joked that it was as though Cllr Crowe was running for the leadership of the Labour group.

A council spokeswoman described Mr Robinson’s comments as ‘light-hearted’ and said they had been edited out as footage unrelated to the meeting.