Great Finborough: Residents’ fury at �1m forced purchase of traveller site

FURIOUS residents have said they cannot understand why a council wants to press ahead with a �1million compulsory purchase order for a new traveller site near their village.

The Forge Caravan Site in Combs Lane, Great Finborough, is already owned and occupied, although not exclusively, by travellers.

But Mid Suffolk District Council is pursuing a CPO to take over the site and meet its quota for providing traveller pitches.

People living around the site say they are happy with the way it is currently being managed and that they have no desire to see it taken over by the council, which has told them it would spend up to �1m on the project.

One resident, who asked not to be named, said he had been in regular contact with other neighbours and they were united in their anger over the way the council had pursued the CPO and its failure to communicate with them.

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He said: “A few of us had a meeting with the chief executive [of Mid Suffolk District Council, Andrew Goode] and asked what their budget was and they said it was �1m. Where they are getting the money from, I don’t know.”

A separate appeal is to be heard next month over the specific nature of the planning permission for the site granted back in the early 1980s, but the CPO could result in a costly public inquiry.

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The resident added: “It seems that they want to spend this money to replace travellers with travellers, and what’s going to happen to the existing occupants?”

Nick Gowrley, corporate director for the council, said gipsies and travellers were residents of the district and needed to be looked after like everyone else.

He said: “It’s unfair to say they [local residents] have been left in the dark. We had hoped to negotiate with the owner but he’s not interested – CPO is always used as a tool of last resort by councils.”

Mr Gowrley said the council had hoped to secure the �1m in funding from the Government, but that appeared unlikely now and the purchase would have to be funded through alternative grant sources and with the support of a registered social landlord.

He added: “There is a requirement to provide a certain number of spaces and this makes a contribution towards that number.”

Objections to the CPO must be made in writing to the Secretary of State by March 18.

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