From the Bath Chronicle
The owner of a Bath nursery chain has spoken of her dismay after finding out that a plot of land next to her new business was being considered for a Gypsy and Traveller site.
Rosemary Collard, who runs Snapdragons Nurseries, bought Ellsbridge House, in Keynsham, in December last year, to launch her latest childcare centre.
At that time, her solicitor carried out the usual searches and Bath and North East Somerset Council's children's services and planning departments liaised with her over the scheme.
The next door plot of land has emerged during a consultation exercise into Gypsy and Traveller sites which began this year.
She has now been told that the section of land immediately next to her new business, which shares access with her site and has only small plants marking the boundary, had been earmarked as one of six possible locations across the district. Now she is appealing to B&NES Council to take the site off the list.
Speaking at a council meeting on Monday afternoon, Mrs Collard said there were a number of reasons why the land next to the former Norton Radstock College veterinary section would not work.
She said: "If we have shared access, the point at which the land next to Ellsbridge House is accessed would be very difficult, if not impossible, to secure, leaving the site vulnerable to trespassers and loose animals.
"At present we use a barrier that the college used to use and that does give us some protection.
"Being able to secure the property is of paramount concern to us because we have a duty to safeguard the children in our care and because the site is unoccupied at weekends."
Mrs Collard added that when they first advertised the new nursery, they had more than 60 inquiries and registrations from prospective parents, but that had dropped dramatically since people had become aware of the latest plans.
She said she was planning to employ local staff and provide much-needed childcare places for local families, so believed she should get support from the authority.
"What started out as being an exciting project and one which we hoped would be seen as offering additional services and employment for Keynsham, has now turned into fighting for the survival of this business, which could ultimately impact on the success of the rest of our business."
Snapdragons currently runs six nurseries in Bath, Wiltshire and Bristol, including one in Weston. The Keynsham branch is due to open in September.
A public meeting where people in the town can talk to councillors and officers about the consultation on gypsy and traveller sites is being held in the JN Fear Hall, in the High Street, next Tuesday, from 3pm to 7pm.
People can respond to the consultation online by going to www.bathnes.gov.uk and clicking on Gypsy and Traveller Site Consultation. They have until 5pm on July 18.