Gypsy Site Proposals For Steam Fair Event

The organisers of the Great Dorset Steam Fair have offered an alternative site to which Gypsies and Travellers can be directed from any unauthorised encampments during the 2011 event.

A planning application for the site has been submitted by Dorset County Council.

The site, north-west of Tarrant Hinton, will be accessed from the A354 Salisbury Road. In a move to break the deadlock in the identification of a suitable location, the steam fair organisers have negotiated to make this site available for three weeks around this year's fair and have offered to provide all of the necessary site infrastructure.

The county council will hire a security contractor and will manage the site through its Gypsy and Traveller liaison service. The overall operation will be co-ordinated through a partnership including the steam fair organisers, the county council, North Dorset District Council and Dorset Police.

The planning application for the site is now available to view and comment on. Details can be found using the planning application search at

http://www.dorsetforyou.com/planningapplications

 or by contacting the county council's planning team on (01305) 224289.

Responses can be submitted online or by writing to the Head of Planning at Dorset County Council. The consultation closes on 16 June and the application will be considered by the county council's Planning Committee on 15 July.

Martin Oliver, Managing Director of the Great Dorset Steam Fair, said:

"We have offered to provide this site to help break the deadlock in identifying a site that is acceptable to all concerned. We look forward to working in close partnership with the two councils and Dorset Police to make this facility a success and help them to manage any unauthorised encampments by Gypsies and Travellers wishing to visit this year's steam fair."

The provision of an authorised site triggers special police powers under the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003 enabling them to move any illegally camped Travellers on to the official site, or escort those that will not comply out of the county.

The previous site, on the eastern side of the C25 Valley Road, was used from 2007 to 2010. In 2009, the county council sought permanent planning permission for this site to be used for three weeks around the fair each year.

However, following objections from residents of the neighbouring villages of Tarrant Launceston and Tarrant Monkton, the county council agreed to grant permission for the site for three years while it continued to investigate and consult on alternative sites.

Last year, the steam fair organisers and the landowner gave formal notification that the previous site would not be available for this year's fair. The county council then agreed a set of criteria on which to compare alternative sites and that a review of the options available beyond 2011 be carried out by a Policy Development Panel.

The offer of the alternative site by the steam fair organisers means that, if planning permission is approved, this site will be used for this year's fair, following which it will be reviewed and options for longer-term planning permission considered.

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