Bury St Edmunds: MP supports the idea of a regional site for travellers
13:02 18 September 2013
A Member of Parliament has said he is in favour of a regional site for gypsies and travellers as a group sets up its eighth illegal encampment on borough council-owned land since June.
Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley said he was “not persuaded” every local authority in the country should have to provide a site and would raise the idea of regional sites with Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
On Friday a group of travellers who have been moving around St Edmundsbury Borough Council-owned sites in the Bury area set up camp at the car park at Nowton Park, on the edge of the town. This is now the eighth borough council site they have moved to since June.
The borough council is looking to go to the High Court to seek injunctions - which could cost £2,000-£3,000 for each site - as a “last resort” to stop the travellers returning to a number of sites.
Mr Ruffley said: “I think travellers could be accommodated in the proper manner in a humane and civilised way on a regional site - maybe two regional sites.”
He said a regional site would be more cost effective and would be one potential planning problem to overcome rather than several.
A borough council spokeswoman said the council had an obligation to assess the need for a gypsy and traveller site and to identify possible sites to meet that need.
It put out a call for potential sites through its Vision 2031 process on the future growth of the area, but it is understood no suitable options have been proposed.
The traveller site in Bury’s Romany Way, which opened in 1977 and was owned by the county council and run by the borough council, was shut following problems with disruption, and there are currently no council-run sites in the borough.
“Today, gypsies and travellers are encouraged to provide their own small family run sites,” the borough council spokeswoman said.
There are no council-run transit sites in Suffolk, but there are three local authority permanent ones, two of which are privately leased.