Fortress warning in travellers site row

ONE of the most prestigious business parks in East Anglia might have to be transformed into a fortress if plans to build a nearby travellers' site are pushed through, according to a report released by commerce leaders yesterday.

ONE of the most prestigious business parks in East Anglia might have to be transformed into a fortress if plans to build a nearby travellers' site are pushed through, according to a report released by commerce leaders yesterday.

Nearly 50 businesses employing 2,200 people with a combined turnover of more than £377million have united in their opposition to proposals to build a travellers' new site near Severalls Business Park, Colchester.

They have detailed their grievances in a five-page report, which they delivered yesterday to Colchester Borough Council cabinet member for business, leisure and tourism Kevin Bentley.

The council approached Colchester Chamber of Commerce as part of a consultation to determine the most appropriate of three sites currently being considered.


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The authority is trying to find a location for a 12-pitch travellers' site, two of which are near the business park with another close to the Ardleigh Crown interchange.

In the report, business leaders from Colchester Chamber of Commerce cited experiences of colleagues who had premises close to the former official travellers' encampments in the Hythe to demonstrate their fear of spiralling security costs.

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They claimed nearby businesses were transformed into fortresses because of increased security measures and asked: “If a travellers' site was inappropriate for the Hythe area, what makes it suitable for the Severalls area?”

The report added: “Every respondent had a major grievance over the additional costs they have already had or anticipate having as a result of the proposed site.

“What assurances can the council give that the new site, if it is approved, will be controlled and managed properly, unlike the Hythe site?” the report asked.

Asked how businesses would try to integrate with any nearby travellers' site yesterday, Jason Berry, Colchester Chamber of Commerce manager, said: “Our plan is to win this fight. If we lose it we'll have to discuss ways of living alongside the travellers, but I'd urge my members to build better relations, although I fear many could relocate.”

Cliff Codona, chairman of the National Travellers Action Group, said: “Businesses keep going on about things like crime, but they don't have any evidence for it.

“They have to be very careful about whipping up a frenzy about the travelling community.”

The council said it would take on board all concerns before making a final decision on September 8.

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