NEW mounds of soil have been put in place to protect open spaces from a repeat of last year’s illegal traveller encampments.

Belmont Road playing fields in Rudheath and Winnington Common – next to The Lodge – are the latest to see soil bunds installed along their boundaries.

The grassy hills are a cheaper and more sustainable method of blocking vehicle entrance to the fields, following on from a similar initiative at Leftwich Green last year.

From May through to September 2018, around 20 illegal traveller encampments pitched up across Northwich – leaving green spaces and play areas out of action and taxpayers footing a clean-up bill of more than £12,000.

Northwich Guardian:

The bunds were identified as an aesthetically-pleasing way of preventing further issues, given that the proposed traveller transit site at Ellesmere Port – which would have alleviated the issue – was scrapped by Cheshire West and Chester Council last year.

Northwich Town Council has carried out the work, with the soil provided by Barratt Homes’ Shipbrook Road development and installed by Northwich Town Council.

Cllr Andrew Cooper said: “We started working to get this organised back in October and it took a long time to put all the pieces in place – get some funding from Rudheath and Witton Together, get permissions from CWAC, get Barratt to agree to the soil.

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“It was really difficult to get it all lined up but we did it, it’s all in place now, and I think after the summer we had last year and what people had to put up with I think people will appreciate the effort has been made.

“You can’t say for certain that it should do what we hope it is going to do but it should go some way towards acting as a deterrent.”

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Cllr Cooper told members at a meeting earlier this year that plans were in place with bodies including CWAC and Cheshire Police to prevent and respond to illegal encampments.

Northwich Guardian:

Olwyn Dean of Rudheath and Witton together said: “We were concerned that [Belmont] field wasn’t able to be used last year because of a number of issues with travellers.

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“When they came into Belmont there was a lot of problems with the play area.

“We were approached and asked whether we would fund the bunds on the field. NTC carried out the work, and we provided £1,600 to cover the costs of the work itself.”

Town mayor, Cllr Kevin Rimmer, added: “I think it is fair to say that those two communities will reap the rewards going forward.”