December 6 2013 Latest news:
Friday, September 20, 2013
A removal order has been served on travellers camped out in a major west Suffolk park.
Nine caravans pulled on to Nowton Park in Bury St Edmunds on Friday after moving from Holywater Meadow.
Officers from St Edmundsbury Council issued the section 77 notice on Wednesday evening, giving the group until 10am on Monday to leave the site.
The illegal encampment is the eighth on council-owned land in Bury since June and comes as the authority prepares to seek a pre-emptive injunction for the most sensitive sites, as a last resort to prevent re-occupation.
A spokeswoman for St Edmundsbury said all encampments, including Nowton Park, have been dispersed using the Suffolk Protocol for Managing Unauthorised Encampments, which balances the council’s duty to the welfare of the settled community and the Gypsy and Traveller community.
Anne Gower, St Edmundsbury cabinet member for housing, said: “The protocol has been very effective in managing a cycle of occupation but it doesn’t cover the circumstances leading up to the occupation, and while we have been taking practical steps through means such as fencing and planting, these costly measures are not guarantees of success.”
She added: “The Government recently re-issued guidance including protection of vulnerable sites by pre-emptive injunction. It is clear to us in the light of recent experiences that we have to follow this up.”
The estimated cost of seeking each injunction is likely to be in the region of £2,000 to £3,000, irrespective of outcome, and will be sought for sensitive sites where the council has already established it will not tolerate occupation.
The authority is still in the process of gathering information about sites and groups of sites ahead of an application for an injunction.
There have been comments on social media sites questioning why St Edmundsbury has not charged the travellers to park. If they leave on Monday, each vehicle would owe £22.
It is understood the council is unwilling to treat the travellers as “customers” at the car park, believing their intention is to camp, not enjoy the park.