From the Sentinel
THOUSANDS of protesters are set to win their fight to stop a permanent Gypsy site being built near their homes.
More than 7,000 people signed petitions opposing Cheshire East Council's proposals for a 12-pitch site at Parkers Road and Kent Lane, in Crewe.
The campaigners even took their fight to Downing Street.
Now the council's ruling Conservative group has revealed it is opposed to the plan following changes to national planning guidelines.
Councillors are expected to throw out the plans at a meeting on Thursday.
If approved, the site would have housed up to 24 trailers, 24 vehicles, an amenity block with washrooms, a kitchen, a dayroom and a laundry.
Glenn Perris, of Broughton Road, Crewe, who is chairman of campaign group Crewe Against Traveller Sites (Cats), said: "It's been a long haul to get to this point, but our view is that the council didn't really have much option but to make this decision.
"We told them if they carried on we would take them to court, and we were very confident we would win.
"The council seems to be using the recent change in planning legislation as an excuse for this change, but whatever the reason, it is a sensible decision.
"I think the council's new leader-elect, Michael Jones, has had a lot to do with it. Six weeks ago he told me he didn't agree with the application, and he has been true to his word.
"We haven't got anything against gypsies, but this was the wrong site."
The council had put forward the Coppenhall site because it is close to an urban area, but not adjoining it, shops and schools are in safe walking distance and it has good road access.
But Mr Jones and fellow Conservative councillor Derek Bebbington will now put forward a motion, spelling out their group's new position, at the full council meeting.
The motion states: "Cheshire East Council's Conservative Group acknowledges the new Planning Policy for Gypsy and Traveller sites and the new National Planning Policy Framework announced by the Government.
"As a consequence, the council is asked to resolve that the Parkers Road planning application should be withdrawn and that a further assessment of need should be undertaken."
The new Government policy means councils no longer have a duty to provide a local site for Travellers in their area. Instead councils can use the private sector to provide sites.
The council's Labour group, which has called for the plans to be withdrawn, welcomed the Conservative 'U-turn'.
Chris Thorley, Labour councillor for Crewe East, said: "The Conservative-led council should never have suggested this site."
There are currently 15 permanent Gypsy and Traveller sites in Cheshire East, with one owned by the council.