Protestors defiant despite Wrexham gipsy camp setback

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

CAMPAIGNERS against plans to build a new gipsy and traveller site at either Brymbo or Chirk have vowed to fight on after suffering a major setback yesterday.

At a meeting of Wrexham Council’s powerful executive board, councillors considered three sites put forward as possible locations for the site by officers.

These are at Black Park in Chirk, Coed-y-Felin at Brymbo and Ruthin Road, Wrexham, where an extension to the existing site is proposed.

The board was invited to make recommendations on which of the three locations should go forward first to the full council and then to an inspector appointed by the Welsh Assembly Government who will make the final decision.

About 50 members of the public from Chirk and Brymbo, who are strongly opposed to the site being located in their respective areas, packed the public gallery at the Guildhall council chamber to hear the debate.

Representatives from both areas had the chance to put questions to chief planning officer Lawrence Isted before councillors were given the chance to debate the issue.

But campaigners were disappointed when board members eventually voted to submit all three sites to the full council without making any recommendation on which would be most suitable.

An amendment to reject Chirk and Brymbo and put forward only the Ruthin Road site was narrowly defeated. Outside the meeting Carys Edwards, who is leading the campaign against the Brymbo site, said: “I was disappointed to see the councillors were lacking the will to make a decision.

“We will have a meeting on Thursday to discuss our next move but I can say now that the fight will go on.”

Ingrid Davies, who is co-ordinating the fight in Chirk, said: “I am very disappointed about the outcome of the meeting.

“There has been a lot of publicity about the plan to create a huge complex topped by a Welsh dragon on this site, and one would have thought councillors would have seen the huge tourist potential of this plan for making the best of the site.

“We have already presented a petition with over 1,100 names to the council against the site being used by gipsies and travellers and we have 782 members on a Facebook site also against it. We will definitely be continuing with our fight.”

Both Carys Edwards and local councillor Paul Rogers put the case to the board about the “total unsuitability” of the Brymbo site because of possible land contamination due to its past use as a sewage treatment plant and a “dangerous” access point.

Chirk North councillor Ian Roberts argued the Black Park site, with its close proximity to the A483 and a host of attractions such as Chirk Castle and the Fronycsyllte aqueduct, had “massive” tourist potential and should be reserved for leisure purposes.

Gwenfro member Cllr Neil Rogers, said for a number of reasons neither Chirk nor Brymbo sites were suitable and proposed both should be removed from the council’s final recommendations to the inspector.

He lost by a 5-4 vote majority.

Board members instead backed a suggestion from Cllr Mark Pritchard (Esclusham) that all three sites should go forward to the full council meeting on March 24, where all 52 members would be able to give their views.

See full story in the Leader

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