Sudbury: New bid to move travellers from airfield

FOR the second time in a month, steps are being taken to remove a group of travellers from land owned by Suffolk County Council.

The group initially set up camp opposite a playground on Aubrey Drive in Sudbury, and the county was forced to take legal action to get them to move.

The same group has now relocated to Chilton airfield just a mile away, and a case conference has been arranged to start the eviction process again.

The case coincides with a move by the Government to encourage local authorities to clamp down on illegal encampments. New guidance has been sent to all council leaders setting out the powers local authorities and landowners have to remove unauthorised encampments, from both public and private land.

The guidance also encourages councils to work with the police and highways departments to make full use of the powers they have to stop travellers moving in, including pre-emptive injunctions to protect vulnerable sites, and possession orders to remove trespassers from land.

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A county council spokewoman said they were aware of the community of travellers on land on the edge of Chilton airfield and confirmed that a case conference was due to be held this Thursday. She said Suffolk already had an established and effective protocol for dealing with illegal encampments, and the new guidance simply collated powers already in force for local authorities to use.

She added: “Our traveller liaison service will work with the travellers, and Suffolk police will monitor the (Chilton) site over the coming days.

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“This is all part of an established protocol for managing unauthorised encampments in the county, which has been in place since 2008. The protocol has been used successfully in many cases to protect local communities while taking the rights of gypsies and travellers into account.”

Nationally, local authorities have seen an increase in the number of cases of travellers taking over land, particularly during public holidays when council offices are closed.

However, the Suffolk spokeswoman confirmed: “This year has been particularly quiet with regards to unauthorised encampments in contrast with previous years, with approximately twenty county-wide in contrast to thirty or forty in previous years.”

The Government has already introduced measures such as stronger tenancy rights for travellers on authorised council sites. Earlier this year a new planning policy on traveller sites was also released.

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