Allerdale has seen a huge influx in the number of illegal traveller caravans - the highest in the county.

Government figures from January show the district saw 58 traveller caravans on sites without planning permission - an issue the council is well aware of.

This is a huge leap from the 15 caravans that were recorded on the last count in July last year and proves the need for a permanent site in Allerdale.

​Copeland, Barrow, Eden, and South Lakeland councils all recorded zero caravans without permission and Carlisle had just two.

The need for a permanent gypsy and traveller site was identified in the Allerdale local plan 2014, with a former caravan park at Oldside, Workington, earmarked as the site.

A spokesman for Allerdale council said the permanent site could help reduce the number of unauthorised traveller caravan numbers.

He said: “A permanent site can provide a location for any travellers to go to when they arrive into the area and may assist the Council in dealing with future illegal encampments.”

However, a date for the permanent site remains unknown. The spokesman added: “A site for gypsies and travellers has been identified in the Allerdale local plan (part two) which has been ‘found sound’ by the planning inspectorate, however, no decision has been taken on the building of such a site. A decision on adopting the local plan (part two) will be made at a future full council meeting.”

The delay in creating the permanent site was criticised in February by former Labour leader of the borough council Alan Smith, who said the new administration had ignored all the work his executive did to create a travellers’ site in Workington.

At the time the council said they had arranged a fact-finding exercise for a team to visit gypsy and traveller sites in the north east in March.

However the trip had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The spokesman added that they are currently unable to rearrange the visit due to lockdown restrictions.

The spokesman explained that a range of factors is taken into consideration when deciding if permission is given for traveller sites, and said: “Allerdale has had people from the travelling community coming to the area for many years. When an illegal encampment is identified in the area we will assess each one individually.

"The Council has to consider a range of other factors, including welfare and education of occupiers, the impact upon the area, and wider community, as well as the legal framework and the Cumbria Joint Working Protocol.

"What the figures do show is that we do take action where necessary and we are able to.”