Bury St Edmunds: Travellers move to Parkway car park behind Cineworld after latest eviction notice

Travellers' caravans on the car park by Cineworld in Bury St Edmunds

Travellers' caravans on the car park by Cineworld in Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Archant

A group of travellers has pitched up in a cinema car park after their ongoing battle with the council took another twist.

Eight caravans are now parked in the Parkway surface car park behind Cineworld in Bury St Edmunds.

The group moved to the site after St Edmundsbury Borough Council issued them with a section 78 order to leave the car park in St Andrew’s Street on Thursday.

The group of six caravans complied with the court-obtained order, which gives them 24 hours to leave, moving to their current location on Thursday and Friday. Two more caravans arrived at the site over the weekend.

A number of council departments will meet with representatives from Suffolk County Council and police on Wednesday to discuss the issue and determine the best course of action.

A St Edmundsbury Borough Council spokeswoman said: “Following that, the decision is made having worked through the practicality of whether we can tolerate it there. If the decision is made that we can’t, we issue them with a section 77 notice that they need to move. If they don’t, we then go to court and we get a section 78 order.

“It’s a standard process that we are following – you can’t just go in and move them off.”

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The latest section 78 order – which prevents occupation for three months – was the eighth issued to travellers on unauthorised sites in Bury St Edmunds since June.

The sites, which have been on council car parks and open spaces around the town, have ranged in size from five to 19 caravans.

Obtaining each order costs £200, and it is the third time an order has been applied to the St Andrew’s Street car park since March - costing the taxpayer £600.

The council is in the final stages of preparing a case to go through the civil courts that it hopes will obtain an injunction to stop travellers moving on to sensitive sites in the first place.

The council’s cabinet backed the move in September, although obtaining an injunction could cost between £2,000 to £3,000 for each site. The current protocol would still apply to any sites not covered by the injunction.

Anne Gower, St Edmundsbury‘s cabinet member for housing, said: “The protocol has been very effective in managing a cycle of occupation, but it doesn’t cover the circumstances leading up to occupation.

“While we have been taking practical steps through means such as fencing and planting, these costly measures are not guarantees of success.”