A new residents’ association for Greenacres and the fact that some travellers who did not wish to cooperate with Central Beds Council have left the site, offers real hope of improved behaviour in the near future.
That was the message brought to CBC’s Executive meeting last Tuesday, by the travellers’ spokesman Mr Jones who said consultation talks between the travellers and CBC “couldn’t have gone any better”.
Mr Jones said since the council plan had been devised the travellers had engaged with CBC officers and set up the residents’ association.
He said: “Officers have been surprised by the amount of cooperation they have been getting from site residents.
“The residents’ association has been quite successful on the site to bring about infrastructure improvements.
“There has been a marked improvement in community cohesion on the site.
“Hopefully some time down the line we’ll be able to improve community cohesion outside of the site.
“A lot of people on the site don’t want to have this ‘us and them’ situation. Quite a lot of progress has been made.
“On site there were people who didn’t want to engage with the council with the process of improving things.
“I’m glad to say that the majority of those people who felt like that have decided to leave the site, which is going to be a benefit to everybody because that will be a marked reduction in anti-social behaviour.”
He said: “I am quite pleased.
“I didn’t think the people on site would respond in the way that they have.
“Initially I think there was disbelief from residents, they felt it was a done deal and pointless trying to engage with the council to improve things.
“But with the work that has been done by the residents’ association explaining what has to be done and reduction that have to be made in the number of caravans, people understand and understand why.”
He said anti-social behaviour off site may not have been Greenacres residents. “But if it is, they need to be dealt with,” he said. “That is no different to anywhere else.”
Cllr Carole Hegley said struck by the depth of concern that had been raised by villagers. She hoped that the sincerity of commitment by Mr Jones was matched by the travellers.
Councillor Kevin Collins, Deputy Executive Member for Corporate Resources, said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of those living on the sites and those in the wider community is our primary concern but we also recognise that the cost of building a new site is a significant investment of public money.
“We are committed to addressing the issues and if this can be achieved by working with the residents on the sites then this is the best approach.
“We will expect to see progress on all issues though and we still have the possibility of closing these sites if necessary.”