Residents in Silchester have formed a group with the objective of “holding the borough council to account” regarding a travellers’ site off Little London Road.
In a public letter published in the June edition of the Silchester parish magazine, the Calleva Society – as it wishes to be known – called for help in raising the tens of thousands of pounds needed to fight a planning application for the travellers’ site.
When approached by the Newbury Weekly News, the chairman of the Calleva Society, Steve Spillane, said: “We are not seeking to publicise the group’s activity at this stage.
“When we are at a point of having details to be made public, we will contact you.”
The public letter states: “To waste no time, the Calleva Society would like to employ the services of Aaron Smith of Fowlers Architecture and Planning LLP who did a great job in assisting our friends in the Baughurst Society to object to a planning application for the traveller camp.”
The Baughurst Society objected to a planning application for the travellers’ site and the application was refused, which is what the Calleva Society also hopes to achieve.
The letter adds: “We hope that if there were funds raised in excess of the required amount, this could be kept as a fighting fund for any other issues that may threaten our village in the future.”
Enforcement officers from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, as well as traveller liaison officers, are making regular visits to the site to ensure copies of a High Court injunction remain positioned around the site and the conditions of the injunction are being complied with.
The injunction was served in February following signs that the foundations for a caravan park were being constructed without planning permission.
It also prevents any tree felling or taking building materials on to the site.
Following an extraordinary meeting of Silchester Parish Council in February to discuss the travellers, the chairman, Simon Mahaffey, said: “I shared a very cordial beer with the three members of the traveller community that were in the meeting.
“Whilst they know that I do not support their actions, I gave them my telephone number and asked them to call me should they feel that they are being unfairly treated by local residents and I asked them to assure me that they would pay the local community the same respect… which they did.
“We agreed that our differences should be settled in the courts and through planning and should not be used to fuel prejudice between the travelling and settled communities.
“I urge everyone to support this approach.”