Councillors meet Topsham residents to discuss travellers’ site

CAMPAIGNERS opposed to plans for a travellers’ site in Topsham met council officials last week to voice their anger.

Richard Short, head of planning at Exeter City Council, undertook a site visit with members of the local authority’s executive committee, to assess a plot of land earmarked as a possible location for travellers.

He was met at the site, next to Topsham Football Club, by nearly 100 protestors, most of whom live at Newport Park, based near the sports’ ground.

Scores of the campaigners, though, were left furious when it appeared the city councillors avoided meeting them as the inspection took place an hour earlier than had been scheduled.

Plans for a travellers’ site form part of a masterplan for the Newcourt development which will see 2,300 new homes being built near the East Devon town.

Alan Southard, 66, of Sleepy Hollow, has lobbied residents of Newport Park to submit letters of objection to Mr Short.

“The strength of feeling here against the plans is very strong. A lot of us are very concerned.

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“A group of travellers moved in across the road three years ago and left a heck of a mess. At the time there were things stolen from Newport Park.”

Members of Topsham Town Football Club have also hit out at plans to create a travellers’ site near their ground.

Danny Carpenter, manager of the first team, said: “It can’t do us any good having a gypsy site right next to the club. Whoever decided on these plans would not put it next to their home, would they?

Speaking to The Journal last week, Michael Dart, who owns the plot of land earmarked as the possible location for a travellers’ site, said: “We are fighting the plans.

We’re adamantly opposed, but there is only such much we can do.

“The best way for this to be dealt with is for the local population to write letters to Exeter City Council. It is all about the community letting itself be heard.

“We do not think Exeter City Council has done a sufficiently robust city-wide search of the best possible site.”

Topsham residents opposed to the plans are now calling for an open meeting with councillors on the matter to take place before a final decision is made later this month.