Bury St Edmunds/Great Barton: Concern no time frame for when travellers have to leave temporary site

Travellers on Orttewell Road, near Moreton Hall and Great Barton. Travellers on Orttewell Road, near Moreton Hall and Great Barton.

Monday, December 2, 2013
11:15 AM

Councillors are concerned they have not been given a definite time frame for when travellers must move off a temporary site.

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It was announced last week that a “tolerated stopping place” over the winter months had been found for a traveller family who had been moving around borough-council-owned sites in the Bury St Edmunds area.

The temporary site is a small piece of land which is part of a former highway near the railway bridge off Orttewell Road on the Great Barton side of the boundary with Moreton Hall.

Councillors Trevor Beckwith and Sarah Broughton, who represent Moreton Hall and the village of Great Barton respectively, want to know when the travellers must leave, but say the council will not provide them with a time frame.

Mr Beckwith said: “All I want to know is how long is this for and they won’t answer.”

Mrs Broughton added: “There is a concern for the residents because they would like to know what time scale we are talking about rather than it being open-ended.”

The decision to have the temporary site off Orttewell Road - which the travellers moved to on Thursday - was made following a case conference under the Suffolk Protocol for managing unauthorised encampments and involved different agencies. It was not taken by councillors.

Anne Gower, St Edmundsbury Cabinet member for housing, said: “It’s a temporary agreement. I have no idea how long they are going to be there. The way it works is there’s a toleration agreement which has been drawn up by Suffolk gypsy and traveller protocol officers and the travellers and that will be monitored regularly, very regularly.”

She said if there were any breaches of the conditions eviction would be sought, and added the travellers could not stay at the site permanently.

Mr Beckwith and Mrs Broughton also raised the safety of the site due to busy Orttewell Road as an issue, but previously Beccy Hopfensperger, Suffolk County Council Cabinet member for localities, said the agencies had carefully assessed the risks.