September 18 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Council officials in Suffolk are proposing to create three new sites for travellers around the county.
The sites would be for temporary pitches and aimed at ending the problems caused by travellers who set up unauthorised sites which require a court order to force them to move on.
Since 2007, there have been 210 unauthorised sites set up in Suffolk, equivalent to more than 10 years of unlawful stopping. The average length of an encampment in that period was 19 days.
The move comes after three recent unauthorised sites were set up in Ipswich, Felixstowe and Bury St Edmunds.
Local authorities have since moved the travellers on, however with no long term solution in place, it is unclear where they will appear next.
A short stay stopping site is a permanent site intended for temporary use by gypsies and travellers. The length of stay generally varies between 28 days and three months.
Users pay rent for their pitches but the sites are not intended to be used as a permanent base. Currently, there are no short stay stopping sites in Suffolk.
Suffolk county council leader Mark Bee has been working on the project on behalf of all the local authorities and police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore.
Mr Bee said: “It’s quite clear that we do not, currently, have a long-term solution to the issue of illegal gypsy and traveller encampments in Suffolk and that something needs to be done about it.
“Other counties have short stay stopping sites and these offer the travelling community a proper alternative to illegal encampments.
“It’s important that everyone who wants to gets a real say in this, which is why we are sharing this process and will be inviting members of the public to give comments.
“Suffolk needs a long-term solution to the issue of illegal gypsy and traveller encampments and with short stay stopping sites, we feel that we may have the answer.”
Officers from each of Suffolk’s local councils and the police will now work together to identify potential sites.
The public will then be given their chance to have a say on the proposals during August and September.
Once sites are identified, planning applications will have to be made to district or borough councils before any development can go ahead.