Lack of pitches for travellers in Suffolk cannot continue, says councillor Christopher Hudson

The travellers in Grange Farm, Kesgrave

The travellers in Grange Farm, Kesgrave - Credit: Archant

A county councillor has said the provision for travellers in Suffolk is “100% untenable”.

But Christopher Hudson, deputy leader of Suffolk County Council, did add he was confident improvements would be made.

There are 185 pitches (the space to accommodate one household) spread across the county but provision in its seven district areas varies.

Suffolk County Council’s website says while there are 69 pitches at 15 private sites in Mid Suffolk, there are none at all in Suffolk Coastal.

Mr Hudson said a joined-up approach was required to make sure the situation improved.

He said: “It’s a very complex problem because there are different sorts of travellers groups not all of whom go well together.

“They don’t have anywhere to stay and the residents do not want travellers with them.

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“The present situation is 100% untenable. It can’t be allowed to continue.”

Mr Hudson felt the county council needed to take the lead in developing a solution which worked with all the district councils.

“The county may well be the best form for doing that,” Mr Hudson said. “We want to find a solution, we are committed to that.

“I’m optimistic the problem will be resolved.”

In recent months travellers have set up unauthorised camps at sites around the county.

St Edmundsbury-owned St Andrew’s long stay car park saw eight caravans and a motorhome arrive in May, despite the location having a High Court injunction preventing them pitching up there.

Groups have also occupied a lorry park in Sudbury, Grange Farm in Kesgrave, Whitehouse Park in Ipswich and Claydon Football Club’s pitches during this year.

Mr Hudson said it could be difficulty in finding approved sites which was driving travellers to make camp elsewhere.

Information on the exact locations of sites was not easily available on the websites of Suffolk councils – unlike those of other councils in England.

“Obviously they couldn’t find designated sites because they are setting up unauthorised ones,” Mr Hudson said.

“It isn’t clear on the maps where they can go and that is unacceptable.”