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Travellers move into Dorchester car park
TRAVELLERS have set up camp at a busy town centre car park.
A convoy of caravans arrived at the Fairfield car park in Dorchester on Thursday night and remained throughout yesterday.
The group have been told if they do not leave over the weekend moves will be made to evict them.
If the travellers are still on site by Monday the authority will enforce their eviction.
Dorset Police inspector Steve Marsh said: “I personally have visited the travellers and at the moment, they have agreed to vacate the car park by noon.
“That is their agreement with West Dorset District Council.
“I have spoken to the council and they are going to continue to provide a presence in the car park.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and make sure the travellers fulfil their promise.
“If not, then the local authority will seek to take enforcement action on Monday.”
He moved to calm concerns of the public over the appearance of the group.
He said: “Some local people might be concerned but the travellers have done nothing untoward, other than entering and staying in the car park when they shouldn’t be there.”
Leader of West Dorset District Council, Robert Gould said: “We are aware that a number of travellers are currently located at Fairfield car park.
“We are working with Dorset Police and the county council’s Gypsy Traveller Liaison Officer to resolve the issue.”
Councils across Dorset are still reviewing the need for permanent traveller sites following a consultation between November 2011 and February last year.
Dorchester Town ward councillor Tess James, inset, said: “If the travellers have said they are moving on, then they are moving on.
“I think we need to look at travellers’ sites – they need to stay somewhere.
“However, if they were to stay in the car park for longer than they have agreed then it would become an issue.”
The group, who told police they are from the London area, said they will return there today.
In September a group of travellers who set up camp by Poundbury’s Great Field moved on after one night.
Six caravans arrived at Prince Charles’s village but left after discussions with the Duchy of Cornwall to go to the official travellers’ site at Piddlehinton.
In the same month, a French group set up camp at the Mount Pleasant Park and Ride site but left after a few days.
Councils work together to create development plan
DORSET County Council, West Dorset District Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council are working with other local authorities across Dorset to create a Development Plan on proposed traveller sites.
This is in order to meet the needs identified by the Dorset Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessment that was commissioned by Dorset councils in 2007.
In the latest statement on the issue in October, the councils said that the results of the consultation would be reported to councillors.
The government introduced a new planning policy for traveller sites in March last year.
It requires local councils to look again at the way they have assessed the need for traveller sites in the past and to prepare new figures, if necessary.
Councils will consider carrying out a new assessment, which, once approved, will be completed in the first part of this year.
A West Dorset District Council spokesman said the next steps will be a review of needs assessment and an assessment of new sites and areas of search put forward during the consultation process, to determine whether these sites could be identified as alternative or additional sites to those sites already identified.
A revised timetable for these is yet to be produced.