Travellers arrive in Essex village

A FAMILY of travellers who have pitched up illegally on land in a north Essex village have upset local residents, who want them evicted.

Elliot Furniss

A FAMILY of travellers who have pitched up illegally on land in a north Essex village have upset local residents, who want them evicted.

The nine-strong family has moved to a plot of land in Elmstead Market, near Colchester, they had previously purchased but they have no permission to live there.

The land, near White Barns Farm, in Clacton Road, is now home to four caravans and assorted vehicles and the travellers have submitted a planning application to Tendring District Council.

The family want to change the use of the site from agricultural to residential, but locals feel they have “jumped the gun” by moving on to the land.

Peter Scott, a district councillor for the village, said the travellers had moved onto the land about two weeks ago and it would now be difficult to get them to move on.

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He said: “They apparently claim to own the land and they started making themselves at home. I got in touch with the planning department and I was informed they have made a planning application.

“It's undoubtedly going to be refused, in my opinion, because of the history of the site and they will probably go to appeal and they will stick with their illegal occupation of the land for six to nine months and that's how it goes.

“It's the way these Irish travellers go about their business - it has built up a lot of resentment.”

There have been three previous unsuccessful bids to change the use of the site and Elmstead Parish Council has called for the district council to act and evict the travellers.

Nigel Brown, the district council's communications manager, confirmed that the travellers had not been given permission to remain on the land but it was not possible to evict them immediately, as requested.

He said: “The council cannot serve a temporary stop notice as the caravan is already stationed on the site and because the caravan is the family's main residence.”

Mr Brown said the only alternative would be an enforcement notice and this would involve a lengthy process - including time for the family to comply with any order - and that could take several months.

“Even if an enforcement notice was served it would not take effect for 28 days and should an appeal be put in before the 28 days were up, the notice would be suspended until the appeal is heard and decided,” he added.

He said a planning application for a gypsy private family site with two static and two touring caravans and hard standing on the land was submitted on January 26.

The district council has been instructed by the Government to provide 15 plots for travellers and its development control committee recently rejected controversial plans for a 12-pitch site in nearby Crockleford Heath.