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Felixstowe: MP criticises choice of locations for proposed traveller stay sites

PUBLISHED: 11:00 26 August 2014

Travellers set up camp in Langer Park, Felixstowe, in June this year

Travellers set up camp in Langer Park, Felixstowe, in June this year

Archant

A Suffolk MP has criticised the proposed location of two short stay gypsy and traveller sites in her constituency.

Therese Coffey labelled the possible allocation of sites in Felixstowe and Levington as “highly inappropriate”.

The Suffolk Coastal MP was responding to proposals by Suffolk County Council to establish a total of three short stay stopping sites across the county for gypsies and travellers.

Of seven possible sites – selected across Suffolk as part of an effort to combat unauthorised encampments – three fall in Dr Coffey’s constituency.

Potential sites have been identified between Candlet Road and Treetops, in Felixstowe, in Felixstowe Road, Levington, and at the former Little Chef site on the Orwell Bridge.

The four proposed sites elsewhere in the county are at the A140 junction at Eye, the old A143 layby at Wortham, Upthorne Road, in Stanton, and another former Little Chef site in Kentford.

Dr Coffey said she would strongly oppose the selection of possible sites in Felixstowe and Levington, and questioned why the Felixstowe site had been included in the proposals to begin with.

“I believe both these sites are highly inappropriate and I will be strongly opposing them,” she said.

“I am liaising with the county council to establish when the Candlet road site was included in the consultation document and on whose recommendation.

“Of the three, the Little Chef is clearly the best site available as it is close to the road and away from housing. I would urge residents to respond to the consultation.”

The county council is proposing to introduce the three sites based on an evaluation of unauthorised encampments.

It revealed that there were 210 unauthorised gypsy and traveller encampments established for an average of an average of 19 days from 2007-2013.

Felixstowe town councillor Kimberley Williams said it “beggared belief” that the Treetops site would be put forward as a possible location.

Following a request from the town clerk, Felixstowe has now been included on a list of six drop-in consultation sessions to be held throughout September. The town hall will host the meeting from 2pm-8pm on September 18.

An extraordinary town council meeting has also been arranged for 7.30pm on September 3 at Walton Community Hall.

Ms Williams, also a district councillor for Felixstowe North, said: “It seems illogical to put a travellers site at the entrance to Felixstowe. It’s hardly conducive for tourism.

“I can’t imagine that Levington or the Little Chef sites are appropriate either.

“I think the town council will be united in opposition – politics doesn’t come into it. If everyone gets behind us, we will be a force to be reckoned with.

“The drop-in session in Felixstowe was only agreed to following a specific request from our town clerk. Until then, Bucklesham was the nearest session.

“My telephone hasn’t stopped ringing. People are really opposed to it, they’re cross about the way it’s been put forward and are fearful about what it might mean.

“They all feel like there’s been a terrible rush and not enough consultation.”

“Based on an EU directive, we have an obligation to make sure sites for travellers and gypsies are available for them but it has to be in the appropriate place.”

Consultation closes at midnight on Wednesday, October 1. Recommendations will then be put forward to the county council’s cabinet. If approved, the three proposed sites would be subject to planning applications which would include further consultation.

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