Suffolk: Consultation opens on new sites for travellers
People in Suffolk are being given a say on where three new travellers’ sites should be set up in the county.
Seven possible locations have been identified, and people will have a chance to register their views over the next six weeks.
The consultation follows the release of figures which show that 210 unauthorised encampments have appeared in the county since 2007.
Taking all of the encampments together this is equivalent to 10 years of unofficial stopping on private and public land.
Suffolk’s council, policing and health leaders have launched the consultation to identify sites that would help towards solving the issue of unauthorised and random encampments. The average length of the encampments is 19 days.
The sites are:
Lay-by off A143 opposite Shepherds Lane, Wortham.
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Land between Candlet Road and Treetops, Felixstowe.
Lay-by on Felixstowe Road, Levington, south of junction with Bridge Road.
Former Little Chef site, Kentford, between Bury Road and A14.
Former Chippings Dump, Upthorpe Road, Stanton.
Former Little Chef site, off A14 by the Orwell Bridge.
A140 junction with Castleton Way, Eye.
A short stay stopping site is a permanent site intended for temporary use by Gypsies and Travellers. The length of stay generally varies between 28 days and three months.
Users pay rent for their pitches but the sites are not intended to be used as a permanent base. Currently, there are no short stay stopping sites in Suffolk.
Speaking on behalf of the elected leaders of Suffolk’s eight councils and Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore, Councillor Mark Bee, Suffolk County Council’s leader, said there needed to be a long term solution to the problem of unauthorised encampments.
He said: “When unauthorised encampments appear, local authorities work together to move them on. However, with no long term solution in place, it is unclear where such encampments will appear next.
“Other counties have short stay stopping sites and these offer the travelling community a proper alternative to unauthorised encampments.
“It’s important that everyone who wants to gets a real say in this, which is why we are inviting members of the public to give comments.
“Unauthorised encampments can have an enormous impact on the county. Not only can they cause tensions in the community, they also use valuable public resources and can have an impact on our economy.
“We believe that introducing three Gypsy and Traveller short stay stopping sites in Suffolk will save taxpayers money, help meet the needs of Gypsy and Travellers moving through the county and reduce unauthorised encampments.”
Jane, whose family owns land in Sudbury, is one person who supports the creation of short stay stopping sites. Travellers have set up three unauthorised encampments on her land in the last five years.
In each case, the family have moved the travellers on themselves – but not without expense and stress to themselves.
She said: “Something really needs to be done about unauthorised encampments and I think short stay sites might be part of the answer.
“Having people come onto your property is both distressing and expensive. I’d like to see official places created so that travelling families don’t use private land owned by other people.
“If nothing is done, unauthorised encampments will just continue and people like me will continue to be impacted.”
Members of the public can give their views in the following ways:
Online at www.suffolk.gov.uk/consultations
Downloading, printing, completing and posting the survey to Suffolk County Council
Requesting a survey, or e-mailing feedback, via: firstname.lastname@example.org
Completing the survey over the phone by calling 0845 603 1842
Attending one of four consultation drop-in sessions.
These will take place at:
Public drop-in sessions will be taking place on:
2-8pm, Monday 8 September – Council Chamber, Mid Suffolk District Council, Needham Market
2-8pm, Tuesday 9 September 2014 – Bucklesham Village Hall
2-8pm, Wednesday 10 September 2014 – Stanton Village Hall
2-8pm, Thursday 11 September 2014 – Eye Town Hall
2-8pm, Friday 12 September 2014 – Millennium Centre, Red Lodge
The consultation will be open until midnight on Wednesday 1 October 2014.
Cliff Codona, chair of the National Traveller Action Group, said: “We estimate that there some 1,000 Gypsies and Travellers in Suffolk – many of which are good citizens living in houses, paying their taxes and sending their children to local schools.
“But those that want to travel struggle to find legal, legitimate and safe places to stop which is why short stay sites are needed.
“I speak to travelling families every day and I know that facilities like these – where families pay rent and respect the surroundings – are what they want and will help to reduce the number of unauthorised encampments.”
Should firm proposals come forward, they will then be subject to local planning application processes – meaning further public consultation will take place.