Future of Morecambe travellers' site secured
Lancaster City Council has agreed to take ownership of the Mellishaw Traveller Site.
It follows a decision last year by the current owners of the site, Lancashire County Council, to declare it surplus to their needs and to dispose of it as part of their budget savings proposals.
This sparked fears by residents that the site could be sold to a private owner, with the residents being evicted and made homeless.
As a result, city councillors last night (Wednesday January 29) met to consider the future of the site.
In front of a number of Mellishaw residents, their supporters and friends, in the visitors’ gallery, councillors were addressed by Prof Imogen Tyler of Lancaster University.
She explained the health needs of the community and the way in which city council ownership of the site could improve life chances for all Travellers at Mellishaw.
Councillors also heard that the city council has managed Mellishaw, a Gypsy and Traveller site with 19 pitches, on the county council’s behalf since 1982.
Although it has no statutory duty to provide such sites, councillors heard that allowing it to be sold to a private owner could mean residents losing their homes and families being split up.
Faced with this potential, councillors agreed that the best course of action would be for the city council to purchase the site from the county council for a nominal fee, securing its future.
Due to parts of the site being in a poor state of repairs, plans will also be drawn up on how it can be improved.
Coun Caroline Jackson, Cabinet member with responsibility for housing, said: “Lancaster City Council's main concern is for the future of residents, some born in Lancaster, many of whom have lived on the Mellishaw Park site for many years. Having managed the site for 40 years, the city council knows the site, and our residents, very well.
“It was clear from the outset of the county council’s proposals to dispose of the site that our residents feared they would be evicted in the event it was sold to a private owner.
“Knowing that this has happened in other areas we felt it was in everyone’s best interests for us to take ownership, avoiding potential distress and upset.
"We look forward to developing our relationship with residents and planning together to do some work on outstanding problems with infrastructure on the site."