New search launched for travellers’ sites in Suffolk

Travellers in Kingfisher car park, Sudbury.

Travellers in Kingfisher car park, Sudbury. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Suffolk’s local authorities have re-started a search for three sites for short-term stays by travellers in the county.

A year after a previous search for sites for travellers in the county was abandoned, the county council has linked up with districts and boroughs to ask landowners to offer sites for travellers.

The authorities are looking for three sites in the county – one in the north, one in the Ipswich area and one in west Suffolk – but have so far not identified any particular locations.

When last year’s abortive attempt at finding a site was launched, seven potential sites were identified – provoking outrage from many local residents.

That search was abandoned within days and now the councils are hoping that any sites that are offered have some element of support before they are made public.

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The need to have official short-term sites for travellers across the county was highlighted again during the summer as unofficial encampments showed up at several sites – most notably in the heart of Kesgrave.

Without official transit sites to move travellers on to, it is more difficult for councils to get the legal powers to move them on.

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This led to all-party calls for all Suffolk’s local authorities to work together to find a solution – and to the launch of the public appeal to landowners for sites.

Suffolk County Council leader Colin Noble hoped sites would be identified by the end of the year and there would then have to be a planning process and some construction work carried out.

They would hopefully be operational by autumn next year.

He said: “It is very important that we work with local people and take into account their concerns – but this is an issue that needs to be addressed.”

Opposition Labour group leader Sandy Martin felt the councils in Suffolk were going about the search in the right way this time after last year’s stalled attempt to find a solution.

He said: “There were concerns about some of the sites proposed last year and that caused the whole process to be abandoned.

“This time the authorities are going out and asking people where would be the best sites and that has to be the right way to go about it.

“Events of the last few months have shown that the present situation cannot continue any longer than necessary.”

He accepted there would often be concerns about possible sites for travellers – but these needed to be considered in context.

“If there is an objection from someone living just down the road then that is one thing, but if people living three miles away are objecting for no good reason then their concerns cannot have as much weight,” he said.

The seven sites identified last year included former Little Chef sites at Kentford near Newmarket and near the Orwell Bridge on the A14.

There was strong opposition to a proposal to create a site at Candlet Road in Felixstowe.

However this year’s summer of unofficial encampments that have sprung up in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, and Stowmarket as well as Kesgrave have highlighted the need to provide official transit sites somewhere.

Calls for more authorised travellers’ pitches in west Suffolk were renewed after a group with 12 caravans set up camp in Sudbury at the site next to the Kingfisher Leisure Centre and Waitrose car parks last Wednesday night.

Although there are 185 authorised travellers’ pitches in Suffolk, so far this year the county council has received 42 reports of unauthorised encampments, up from 35 in 2014.

The official search is being launched today and landowners can register an interest by logging on to which will become live during the day.

The registration process will remain active for about two months.

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