Travellers move in to former Leeds plant hire site

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Travellers have pitched up on the car park of a former plant hire store.

Around 14 caravans surrounded the vacant former HSS Plant Hire building, in Goodman Street, off Hunslet Road, around a week ago and are yet to move.

Two other caravans were yesterday occupying a cycle path on the opposite site on the other side of Hunslet Road.

This comes as Leeds City Council’s executive board is expected to approve guidelines that could see the possibility of new travellers sites in the city.

The store closed earlier this year although the firm still owns the lease on the building and car park.

Coun Mohammed Iqbal (Lab, City and Hunslet) said: “Illegal occupation is unacceptable and causes ill feeling in the area. It costs the council a lot of money so the present administration is taking this issue seriously and looking at permanent provision.

“Over the years the Hunslet ward gets more of a share of the travelling community than any other area.

“It tends to have more illegal occupation than any other ward. We’ve had hundreds of complaints from residents over the years and it costs us a lot as when they leave, besides the court orders, they leave a lot of mess.

“This is another sign that there needs to be a permanent solution for this.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We are aware of an unauthorised encampment involving 14 caravans on Goodman Street, Hunslet, and are following our usual procedures in line with government guidance.”

It is believed that the travellers may be parked on both council land and private property which is still leased by the plant hire firm.

Senior councillors agreed earlier this year that possible new sites should be identified. Guidelines to be used to select potential sites have been drawn up and are expected to be approved by the executive board on Wednesday.

Brownfield sites in council ownership will be given top priority in the search, which will focus on finding pitches for “12 Leeds-based ‘roadside’ families who have a housing need.”

A spokesman for HSS Hire said they were not able to comment.

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