Plans for a temporary Gypsy site near Dorchester during the Olympics have upset local people.
Dorset County Council (DCC) wants to use an existing pony paddock near the entrance to the Enterprise Business Park at Piddlehinton for nine weeks in the lead up to and during the Olympics.
“Surely they could have found a site which was actually near the Olympics. Weymouth and Portland are surrounded by open fields yet they want to put this right next to our businesses and almost an hour’s drive away from the nearest Olympic sailing venue,” said the owner of a small firm on the site.
He declined to be named “out of fear of repercussions”, but said he would be adding his name to the objectors on the county council website and encouraging other businesses at Enterprise Park to do so.
The parish council has yet to discuss the application and would not be drawn into commenting until councillors had examined the plans.
West Dorset District Councillors are not expected to look at the county council application until their next meeting on March 8th.
The former military site, now an industrial estate, has long been the home for one of the area’s permanent Gypsy sites. A site which is widely acknowledged to be well managed and successful.
Dorset Gypsy and Traveller Liaison Officer David Ayres has submitted the application on behalf of the county council.
He has experience in temporary Gypsy and Traveller sites, including those set up specifically for the annual Dorset Steam Fair.
The proposals in the application are to establish a temporary transit site for Gypsies and Travellers to be open for nine weeks from the time that the Olympic Torch will be carried through Dorset on July 12th until the end of the Paralympics.
This site is owned by DCC and it is located South East of the the Enterprise Business Park in Piddlehinton.
The site will be accessed through the existing road into the business park with the access to the field located at the top of the site, by the army training camp. The entrance will need some minor modifications to allow a better access for caravans and will be stabilised with planings or crushed aggregate at the field entrance.
The Olympics start on July 27th and close on August 12th with the Paralympics from August 29th August until September 9th.
The temporary planning permission for the site is to apply from July 8th to September 14th to allow for setting up and any restoration works.
Mr Ayres says that having an official transit site will allow Dorset Police to use their powers to redirect unauthorised campers should they camp in park and ride car parks or any land in and around the sailing venue or the strategic links to it.
Powers under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act allow the police to direct Travellers to a “suitable pitch on a relevant site” and which is managed by a local authority.
DCC, working with Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and the police, will use their powers to direct Travellers to the temporary site.
The tactic is the same one used in the Blandford area around the time of the Great Dorset Steam Fair.
Mr Ayres says the site will have portable toilets, a rubbish skip and tanked drinking water on it and managed by himself and the local Gypsy Site Manager whilst the site is occupied.