Police arrive in force to clear controversial Wigan travellers' site

A large number of police officers and bailiffs descended on an “unauthorised” travellers’ site to evict a family from their home.

The land on Lily Lane in Bamfurlong had been home to Peter “Ricky” Connors - the man acquitted of murdering 21-year-old Billy Livesley last December - and his family.

The site on Lily Lane

The site on Lily Lane

But this morning notice was served on the Connors family and their property was being removed from the site.

The travellers’ encampment is considered to be unauthorised, after planning permission was refused as part of the site is in the green belt.

An appeal was submitted but was also refused.

A second appeal against an enforcement notice was submitted to the Secretary of State, who upheld the planning authority’s decision to serve the notice but increased the period to vacate from 28 days to one year.

Peter "Ricky" Connors lived on the site

Peter "Ricky" Connors lived on the site

This one-year notice period ended on Saturday, prompting the council to take action.

Gate pillars had been built, which exceeded the criteria allowed to develop without the need to seek planning permission.

Within the compound there were two static homes and two trailer caravans, along with a stable and tack room structure and toilet and shower facilities.

As no steps had been taken to remove the structures and caravans, Wigan Council, supported by Greater Manchester Police and Uniqwin, decided to take direct action to have the unauthorised development removed.

A council spokesman said: “No action has been taken by the travellers residing on Lily Lane to vacate the unauthorised encampment, despite a year-long notice period issued by the Secretary of State.

“As a result, the council is taking enforcement action, which is a decision supported by Greater Manchester Police.

“A notice was serviced this morning to the travellers on site and our bailiffs and police are aiding us with eviction. Any property seized from the Lily Lane site will be held in a secure store ready to be recovered.

“Although we recognise the requirements of travellers, this site is unauthorised and is a breach of planning control. The applicant has exhausted the planning process and despite being unsuccessful, has failed to comply with the timescales set out by the Secretary of State.”

A police spokesman said: “Greater Manchester Police are in attendance during enforcement activity led by Wigan Council of the eviction of travellers residing on Lily Lane, Wigan.

“GMP officers are present at the site of the eviction to support Wigan Council with their operation and are committed to ensure that proceedings are undertaken in an orderly and lawful manner.”

The Post attempted to contact Mr Connors but did not receive a response.

He stood trial at Manchester Crown Court over the summer accused of the murder of Billy Livesley, from Platt Bridge, who died on December 29.

Billy, whose girlfriend was pregnant with their first child, had been hit on the head with a metal bar the night before on a car park on Bickershaw Lane in Abram.

Connors, 32, was acquitted of both murder and an alternative charge of manslaughter.

His co-accused, his brother David Connors, 26, was jailed for life and must serve at least 17 years before being eligible for parole.

After walking free, Peter Connors gave an exclusive interview to the Post in which he said he hoped to resume his life in Wigan.

But he did fear for his safety after a petrol bomb was thrown over a wall and exploded on the site just a few weeks after his return.

There was also an arson attack on the site while he was remanded in custody, which badly damaged a caravan.