Petition against Birstall J27 'traveller's site' reaches 5,000 signatures

Councillors Liz Smaje and Mark Thompson are rallying against the decision.
Councillors Liz Smaje and Mark Thompson are rallying against the decision.

Plans to build a so-called ‘travellers’ site’ close to a popular retail park in Birstall has been met with derision by local councillors after it was voted through last week.

The controversial plan, which will see space for 20 caravan pitches freed up on a plot off Bankwood Way, just metres from the Showcase Cinema complex and Birstall Retail Park, is the subject of a petition that has attracted over 5,000 signatures in less than a week.

Birstall and Birkenshaw Councillor Mark Thompson described the plan as ‘ludicrous’, claiming the site was “just about the worst possible site you could go for”, when fulfilling Government instructions to implement a further site in the borough.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said, “there are so many reasons not to put the site there.”

Representatives of businesses at the retail and leisure park have been damning of the plans, with Colliers International, representing National Amusements, owners of Showcase Cinema de Lux, inferring safety issues around low-hanging cabling on the site.

Councillor Thompson said: “There are concerns that travellers’ sites - and I’m not lumping them all in as one - do not show the behaviour of other housing estates. There have already been incidents with the cinema.”

Liz Smaje said: “The allocation of this land as a Traveller site does not make any sense at all. By doing so the Labour administration has completely ignored business and residents alike.

"This will drive businesses away.”

“No case has been made for locating a site in Birstall, especially as one of the Leeds sites is just over two miles away and local Conservatives will fight any application that may come forward.”