Council to investigate Cottingley Springs site complaint

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A Morley councillor who opposed Leeds City Council’s failed bid to expand Cottingley Springs Travellers Site, has lodged a formal complaint over the local authority’s behaviour during the process.

Morley Borough Independent leader Coun Robert Finnigan is trying to retrieve the £4,000 raised through crowdfunding by community groups in their attempts to block the expansion.

The council’s plans to increase the size of the site by 12 pitches were eventually stopped in March by the then-Communities Secretary Eric Pickles after a three year battle, which has cost the local authority in excess of £10,000 in legal costs.

Mr Pickles ruled that expanding the site would be “inappropriate” and would have caused significant harm to greenbelt land.

Coun Finnigan said: “This application breached the council’s own planning policies and the Planning Inspector was unequivocal in rejecting Leeds City Council’s claims that land it owned in East and South Leeds was not appropriate for smaller Traveller sites.

“Leeds City Council paid over £10,000 to employ a barrister to support this ill-founded application and residents and community groups had to raise their own funds to get legal advice before the Public Inquiry.”

A spokesperson for Leeds City Council said: “We have received a complaint about the expansion of the Cottingley Springs Traveller site. This will be investigated in line with our complaints procedure but it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment until this investigation is concluded.”