Threat to Thornton?
Residents living near the Thornton Reservoir in Leicestershire are campaigning against a proposal to have a ten pitch traveller site next to the tourist attraction. They say the development will affect the area.
Campaigners living near the Thornton Reservoir in Leicestershire are campaigning against plans for a permanent traveller site next to it.
The ten pitch site has been proposed by Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council , but people living in the area say it could have a big impact on the already stretched local amenities in the area.
They also say they want to protect the county beauty spot from any development that could destroy local wildlife.
Now to get themselves heard, they've set up an action group to campaign against the plans, and have used some unusual methods to get themselves heard.
Thornton Reservoir Action Group
Listen: The Fish Speaks!
BBC Leicester's Julie Mayer visited Thornton Reservoir on 03 April to speak to Micky Finn the Trout (aka Mick Mortimar) just before he set out on a protest against the proposed plans...
Mick was dressed as Thornton Reservoir Action Group's adopted mascot Micky Finn to represent the environment of the area.
The fish and a fisherman were due to travel to offices of Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council on the back of the boat later in the day to deliver 5,500 protest letters.
Mick feels that it is the borough council's responsibility to provide a suitable area for travellers to settle which will provide them with the facilities they need:
"It's a greenbelt piece of land. There's surely got to be brown field sites that they can be put in."
"This is not just about the travellers; we'd be doing the same thing as if they were trying to put houses or even factories up there. This is about the wrong place to be putting it."
Listen: Thornton Reservoir - Part one
At the end of February 2009 BBC Leicester's Bridget Blair met with some of the members to find out more...
Thornton Reservoir is based within the National Forest and is part of a conservation area which is believed to provide a habitat for endangered species.
County Councillor David Sprason commented, "The impact of what Hinckley and Bosworth are proposing, to develop something on land next to this beautiful reservoir is just a crazy decision."
It is not just the environment that the campaigners fear will be affected by the proposals.
Sian, who has lived Thornton for 28 years, is concerned about the practical impact 30-50 caravans will have on the small village.
With one shop, no post office, no health centre and an already oversubscribed primary school, she feels the influx of new people will be detrimental.
Barry White, Chairman of Thornton Residents Action Group, was clear to point out that any development would be inappropriate:
"We have absolutely no problem with travellers per se. We recognise that they like all of us have a right to live in a well balanced environment..."
The campaigners say it is a surprising decision by Hinckley and Bosworth Council as they understand that they had previously turned down proposals for a smaller caravan site in the past.
Listen: Thornton Reservoir - Part two
BBC Leicester's Ben Jackson tackled the topic on his breakfast show in February 2009. He spoke with Trevor Prowse, Director of Community and Planning Services at Hinckley and Bosworth Borough, plus county councillor for Markfield, Desford and Thornton David Sprason...
David Sprason raised serious concerns about the impact the proposal would have on the highways in the area, as well as environmental issues.
He felt it was particularly difficult for residents to swallow after a past proposal for four caravan sites had been turned down, "I think people are very angry and cannot quite believe this."
David said the reservoir was one of Leicestershire's top ten visitor locations, attracting 200,000 tourists a year, based in a unique Parish with three distinct communities.
Trevor Prowse said that himself and his colleagues are currently in the consultation period, but a recent meeting with the campaigners had been thought-provoking:
"They've certainly put forward compelling arguments as to why that particular site should not be used as a gypsy and travellers site.
"At the end of the day we will put proposals through to council, it's for the council to make the ultimate decision to what we put forward."
During this consultation period he stressed that they would be looking to hear the views of residents across the borough so everyone's comments can be fully considered.
last updated: 03/04/2009 at 16:57