Action to evict travellers from common

By David GreenA FORMAL notice has been served on travellers camping on a village common that court action was being pursued to force them to move off.

By David Green

A FORMAL notice has been served on travellers camping on a village common that court action was being pursued to force them to move off.

The Suffolk Wildlife Trust, part owner of Mellis Common, near Eye, is due to go to court on Thursday to seek a possession order.

About a dozen caravans, together with lorries and cars, arrived on the common – a designated County Wildlife Site - on Wednesday after leaving Stowupland Common under threat of legal action from the parish council.

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Their arrival in Mellis, on the eastern part of the common, has led to a series of complaints from residents.

Julian Roughton, wildlife trust director, said yesterday legal action was being taken for two reasons.

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"Firstly, we have a responsibility to our neighbours. A lot of concern has been expressed by people around the common who are worried about the travellers being there and rubbish being dumped," he added.

"Secondly, the common is an important wildlife habitat and we want to ensure that it is not damaged by the movement of heavy vehicles."

Steve Aylward, manager of the trust's nature reserves, said it was hoped the possession order would come into immediate effect.

"The weather is beginning to turn unsettled and there is a real worry that all the vehicle movements on the grass will start to cause real damage," he added.

Philip Butler, a resident of Mellis who is also the common reeve, the official appointed to oversee the use of the land, said the travellers were aware of the legal position and he thought they were unlikely to move before court action had been taken.

"They have moved on to one of the most sensitive parts of the common. A lot of people would like them to move off," he added.

But one villager, Betty Wells, said she had sympathy for the travellers and thought if they moved on within a few days and did not make a mess, they should be left alone.

"They are constantly being moved on and this is not a long-term answer because all it is doing is moving the problem on. There are not enough permanent or transit sites," she added.

However, Mrs Wells, who has lived beside the common for 20 years, stressed she would not be sympathetic to travellers who left a mess or caused a nuisance to residents.

"I am only sorry they have chosen the most sensitive part of the common to camp on," she added.

The travellers said they only intended to stay for between a week and 10 days and have undertaken not to leave a mess behind.

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