A public meeting about travellers’ sites has heard threats of “World War Three” in Grimsby, as angry residents said they would make the potential tenants feel “very unwelcome”.
People living on the Nunsthorpe Estate, which has two sites on North East Lincolnshire’s shortlist, attended a meeting organised by South ward Councillor Jane Bramley to air their views.
Councillor Bramley said the sites on Wootton Road and Winchester Avenue were “absolutely ridiculous” because they were either side of a new housing estate.
She had concerns over the nearby residents’ safety, particularly those of the care facility currently under construction.
She raised fears of clashes between residents and the tenants and said that she had told those in charge of the decision that: “If you put them on here it’s going to be World War Three. There’s going to be out-and-out war and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.”
She feared petrol bombs were already being prepared.
Councillor Bramley told residents the 15-peg site would see travellers pay £14 a night and would be restricted to 14 day stays, however, residents responded with scepticism over whether they would leave the site after that time and how it would be policed.
She added previous conversations with traveller groups left her feeling the community itself would prefer another solution on the outskirts of town.
Residents feared an increase in crime, including littering and fly tipping, referring to previous experiences with travellers in the town.
They suggested that years of trying to rid the estate of a negative image could be set-back by the move.
They accused the council of not listening to residents and queried why out-of-town sites, including one on Waltham Aerodrome, had not been considered – despite being offered.
One angry resident who left before the meeting finished, called out: “Let them come. We’ll make sure they don’t stay.”
Bob Handley, however, had a calmer measure in mind and said: “The day they arrive, we’ll throw them a welcome party. Like the protestors in London – peaceful. They can’t move in if we’re laid in front of them. On the day they arrive we’ll throw them an unwelcome party.”
A call was also made for councillors and campaigners to meet with representatives of the traveller communities to find out what they want.
Councillor Bramley said the last time she had spoken to them, they had told her they did not want to be inside the town, but on the outskirts, in open fields.
The five sites selected by North East Lincolnshire Council are:
- Former youth club on Wootton Road, Nunsthorpe
- Torksey Drive and Toynton Road site, off Winchester Avenue
- Land under the Cleethorpe Road flyover
- Garibaldi Street car park
- The car park off Wellington Street
No-one from the ruling party was at the meeting, and residents expressed anger that Councillor John Fenty, deputy leader of North East Lincolnshire Council had not attended.
Following the meeting Councillor Fenty said in a statement: “I need to remain neutral on any potential site issues in this matter until we can consider it at Cabinet and as I’ve said on several occasions, I’ll be happy to receive representations and views from local people and ward councillors if and when the issue goes out to public consultation.”
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