A TRAVELLER family has been waiting five years for a site in the southern Derbyshire Dales, the News Telegraph can reveal.
The family has previously tried to buy land in the area to provide their own site, but high prices for a suitable plot thwarted their attempts.
Siobhan Spencer is the co-ordinator of the Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group, a pro-active service which helps traveller families to open communications with councils and other authorities.
She said: “This site in Ashbourne is essentially for this particular family, it is not a site where people will be moving on and off.
“The district council consulted with us because technically each district council is supposed to have a five-year supply of land for sites.
“This family was very much identified as there was a need for a small site in south Derbyshire Dales in 2008 under the Housing Act.
“The family do want it in the south of the Derbyshire Dales.
“Traditionally there have been a few gypsy families travelling around the Derbyshire Dales for a number of years. The district council hasn’t really provided anything. We know it’s a hot potato for a lot of district councils.
“For this particular family, which has two old age pensioners, one needing hospital treatment and a young man with learning difficulties, there are real difficulties in accessing services without a fixed address.
“This family have got to the point where they need to settle down, which is hard for an old-fashioned Romany gypsy who has never been in bricks and mortar.
“I’ve been years trying to get land for this family. I’ve looked for land that is owned privately and tried to get the money for it.
“The cost is prohibitive. We went after one plot which sold for £180,000.
“When I saw the reaction in Ashbourne, I thought oh crikey, what a furore. It is disappointing.” A spokesman for Derbyshire Dales District Council said: “The planning application for a three-year traveller site in Ashbourne is not specifically designed for this one family but they are the only traveller family who have applied to the district council for assistance.
“What is important is not the identity of the potential users, but the maximum number of caravans proposed for the site, which is five.
“The overall situation with regard to traveller sites in the Derbyshire Dales — and the district council’s legal obligations — will be discussed by councillors at a meeting of our environment committee on November 29.”