Council help for illegal travellers
By Dave GooderhamCOUNCIL bosses have defended a controversial proposal to help travellers living on an illegal site submit a second planning application, claiming it could save taxpayers thousands of pounds.
By Dave Gooderham
COUNCIL bosses have defended a controversial proposal to help travellers living on an illegal site submit a second planning application, claiming it could save taxpayers thousands of pounds.
A decision whether to impose an enforcement notice on travellers living on the site, between Elmswell and Woolpit, has yet to be made by Mid Suffolk District Council.
But it has been revealed the council is considering aiding the travellers through the planning process - despite claims they “flouted” planning laws by setting up camp without permission.
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Roger Saunders, council leader, said he sympathised with residents' concerns, but pointed out it was a difficult balancing act.
“One of the options we are considering is helping the travellers with a second application,” he added.
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“The problem with travellers is that they build things first, which then makes it extremely difficult to enforce any notice.
“We also have to think about the cost involved in any enforcement notice, which would mean an increase in council tax. It comes to a point where you have to make a balanced judgment.”
Council officers are examining their options after the 18 families, who have already spent £100,000 buying the land near the A1088, failed to lodge an appeal against a refusal of retrospective planning permission for the site.
Residents in Woolpit, Elmswell and Tostock - the villages that neighbour the travellers' site - reacted angrily when the group first moved in last summer as they had failed to win planning permission before starting work.
Villagers are now faced with more distress after the council warned it could take up to four years to process an enforcement notice.
One resident from Elmswell, who asked not to be named, said she was “disappointed” that the council seemed to be stalling on a decision.
She added: “We have been told that a foremost option the council is considering is to help and advise the travellers in putting in another planning application.
“My own personal feeling is that I feel a bit disheartened that the original appeal refusal doesn't seem to be the end of the line.
“If this was a typical resident and they didn't appeal against a decision, the next stage would be enforcement.
“But time is ticking on and the council seems reluctant to make a decision. There has to be justice and this seems all very unfair on the ordinary person who abides by the law.”