Bury St Edmunds: Council bids to evict travellers from its land

OFFICIALS have been working to evict travellers from council-owned land in Bury St Edmunds.

But the travellers who have moved on to the site opposite the Ramada hotel in Symonds Road say they need somewhere to stay, their children attend the local school and they are causing no harm.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council was alerted on Monday afternoon that 10 caravans had gained entry to the Layhill Covert site – which is about 50 metres from houses – and there were also a number of vehicles.

A borough council spokesman said a lock had been cropped and bollards removed to gain access, which had been reported to the police. But travellers there told the East Anglian Daily Times the damage had been caused before they arrived.

Speaking yesterday, the borough council spokeswoman said: “Council officers visited the site and told those present that camping on public open space was not permitted and that all necessary steps are being taken to evict them as swiftly as possible.

“A regular check is being kept on the site and bin bags have been delivered with arrangements for daily collection.

“The council is now working with the police and the traveller welfare officer to clear the site as speedily as possible.”

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She added that the travellers had been asked to move generators away from the homes to mitigate any impact.

Sergeant Davy Hill said officers were working closely with the travelling community and nearby residents in a “proactive approach” to prevent any potential community tension in the area.

A male traveller, who asked not to be named, said: “We have been in the Suffolk area for the best part of a year now, all over the place. Our kids go to the school now.”

Traveller Ann Delaney said: “We are just looking for somewhere to stay until after Easter and then we are going to Newcastle.”

She added: “We are trying to get in an approved site at the moment and are waiting to hear back.”

Miss Delaney said they were keeping the land clean and were not causing problems for anybody, adding that they wanted their children to have some schooling.

The nearest transit site for travellers is in Thetford, but a spokeswoman for Breckland Council said they could only have up to eight caravans.