Angry scenes at Charlesworth Parish Council meeting over gypsy traveller site

Angry words were spoken at Charlesworth Parish Council's meeting last night, which was attended by eight opponents of the gypsy/traveller site near the golf club and journalists from two local newspapers. Glossop Gazette asked to make a sound recording of the meeting but the council refused. The councillors and clerk sit around four children's tables pushed together, and all sat on infant chairs except the tallest councillor, who sat on a teacher's chair. Three members of the public were given five minutes each to voice their concerns.

All asked the council to reconsider its letter of no objection to Peak Park planning about the gypsy traveller site. Among issues raised were that insufficient information had been provided to the parish council, that they had not had the time to understand the implications of the plan,  they had not consulted with constituents, that it was on green belt land, that there was a rumour in Glossop that the parish council only would have objected if it was in the village, that the gypsies would run the site as they saw fit, that the map attached to the application was of incorrect scale, that there were drainage issues and that a contamination report should have been included because of previous use. One speaker described the application as "the most contentious in Glossop's history".

The Chairman of the council pointed out that under the standing orders (laws that regulate the powers of parish councils) it was impossible for the council to reconsider its decision. It could have been reconsidered if three members of the council had informed the clerk ten days before the meeting that they wanted to revisit the issue. [As far as I can ascertain from the meeting the objectors had not attempted to contact individual parish councillors beforehand and were unaware of  this procedure.] The chairman accepted that the decision could have been deferred but said that nobody had expressed concerns at the time. Some councillors were amused at the claim that Peak Park would have paid attention to Charlesworth Parish Council's opinion.  Another councillor said that as lay people it was not for them to comment on matters such as drainage and contamination. One member of the public asked to speak again and the chairman said that because he had not used his full five minutes he could do so. He used the two minutes to say that  he thought the council had let down a lot of people by not objecting to the site, that if it had been in Charlesworth village they would have objected, that property would be devalued if the application was approved and that the decision should have been deferred. The Chairman warned against making accusations and it was agreed that it wasn't an accusation. The Chairman gave his contact details and said that the council would ask Peak Park planning about the arrangements for ensuring the site was maintained.  A member of the public who had not asked to speak asked "how would gypsies contribute to Glossop?" Somebody on the council replied that the issue was not part of the planning application. By now it was 8pm and, as the council turned to the agenda, most of the objectors left, some banging their chairs and making comments including "rubbish", "disgusting" and "you should be ashamed of yourselves".

The minutes were approved and the council considered an application to build at Bankswood Gate, which they voted to object to on the grounds of access and greenbelt. Another application for a shed on agricultural land was discussed, and councillors seemed to think it was ok. Next they talked about trees that somebody wanted to remove because they interfered with drainage on the village green. The trees were marked in purple and the councillors agreed to go and have a look next week. There was also another consultation about clearing trees on the rec because they were close to power lines. It transpired that if blockages in drains and gullies were discovered while they were being cleaned they couldn't be unblocked without an individual job number, resulting in delays and bafflement. Next the state of the cenotaph had been commented on. Some councillors said it was only cleaned two years ago, some liked the old lights but most agreed that the best lights were the floor level ones that replaced the originals, which worked for a few years until the seals failed. For the last ten years the lights have been out of action and councillors discussed how they had "asked and asked and asked" HPBC and possibly DCC to fix them. They agreed to write again this year and also look for possible grants.

Events took a happy turn as the council agreed to give £250 for well dressings.

Councillors were not happy about the use of PCSOs as a method of traffic calming, with one describing it as "a joke". They said that the PSCOs had no powers to stop or prosecute speeding drivers and that they needed "proper police" who would provide a strong deterrent. Somebody asked by who and how data about speeding drivers was collected, but nobody had a clear answer.  Somebody said that the worst offenders included parents on the school run to private schools in Marple, somebody else said that the motorcyclist on sundays were also very fast. The council agree to write to Derbyshire Constabulary asking for a visit from "actual police officers" to help alleviate the problem.

The memorials gardens are in a right state, due to the gardening partnership having split. The gardeners had asked for a few weeks grace to get things back up to scratch. A councillor commented that the gardens looked as if somebody had been hacking at the plants.

By the time the meeting ended, everybody who stayed behind after the gypsy/traveller site business had missed Corrie and all the goals in the Spain vs. Chile match.


An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect figure of £350 for the the well dressings, apologies for the mistake.

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