TRAVELLERS would not ruin a permanent site if one was given the go-ahead in Ellesmere Port.
That’s the view of Joe Hurn, chairman of Cheshire Gypsy and Travellers Voice, who says it would be “common sense” to have a fixed camp.
The borough council is awaiting a response from the Government on their bid for a £2m grant to build a permanent site on Rushton’s Yard, off New Bridge Road.
The controversial scheme has met strong opposition by some councillors as well as residents in the Wolverham and Stanney estates.
At a resources committee meeting back in August, Cllr Peter Shephard (Lab, Rivacre) said some Travellers “don’t help themselves” and the importance of keeping a fixed camp clean had to be stressed to them.
Mr Hurn said: “It’s like anything, if it’s managed right and there are rules in place there’s not going to be a problem.
“One bad apple can cause problems but that can happen in any social environment.
“A permanent site will mean less hassle for the community on both sides. They will have rates and tax to pay, they’ll be no different than anyone else.
“It’s also important to get it across that building a site would not be coming out of the local taxpayers money.
“Travellers are not looking for special treatment, just equality.”
Cllr Tommy Griffiths (Lab, Stanlow & Wolverham) has vowed to “fight all the way” plans for a permanent camp and, after visiting the proposed site, believes it is far too dangerous for Travellers’ children to live on due to the local industry and nearby transport routes.
Mr Hurn said: “I think it’s a concern. I’ve had a look at the site and it’s not in an ideal place but at least the council are willing to stick their neck out.”
For the past six months, a group of Travellers have been staying at an “accepted encampment” in Shellway Road, which cost the borough council £14,500.
Council leader Justin Madders says the figure is less than what it would be to continually move the Travellers on.