Video: Dozens of residents turn out for heated debate over Grange Farm travellers at Kesgrave Town Council meeting

Councillors address concerned residents outside the Kesgrave Town Council offices on Monday evening

Councillors address concerned residents outside the Kesgrave Town Council offices on Monday evening - Credit: Archant

A councillor was reduced to tears after a heated debate regarding the travellers in Kesgrave saw dozens of residents demand urgent action.

More than 60 members of the public gathered in the car park at the town council offices ahead of the regular monthly town council meeting last night, as councillors vowed to “get their act together” over the travellers problem.

Kesgrave Town Council chairman Neal Beecroft-Smith addressed the residents and issued a short statement, before councillors from Kesgrave Town Council, Suffolk Coastal District Council and Suffolk County Council answered queries for more than an hour.

One resident asked “Why have the councils not done their research on this?” While another added “They know the law better than you do, so you shouldn’t go unprepared into that.”

The original group of travellers are reported to have arrived on Monday, June 15, having spent nearly a month at the site while one of the group was being treated for a blocked artery in his neck at Ipswich Hospital.

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Last week, residents came together to blockade open stretches of land with cars, wheely bins and farm machinery, amid rumours that around 100 additional travellers would descend on the town for Communion services.

Suffolk county councillor for Kesgrave, Robert Hudson, addressed the despairing public and said: “You have gone through hell, and we can talk about this all night long, but we demand action.

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“This has been going for one month, and for one month we have viewed you losing your human rights.

“We have got to get our act together.”

He vowed to make sure a public meeting was held “within seven days” over the issue, where members of the public could air their views.

Residents had also questioned why more was not being done to protect other vulnerable pieces of land in Kesgrave, before travellers could occupy those sites.

District council Debbie McCallum, who at one point was moved to tears by the intense discussion, said: “We have all learnt lessons here, and those lessons will not take away from the beauty of Kesgrave.”

She added that district councillors had met with county highway staff to consider other areas at risk, and look at proposals for temporary and permanent barriers in areas at risk.

However, a letter from the highways department read out to the public confirmed that it would be around 14 weeks before anything could be put in place.

The possible solutions are available to view at the town council offices for all members of the public.

Suffolk Coastal chairman Ray Herring added that a thorough clean-up of the land would take place once the travellers had left.

Traffic has also been blocked from entering the Millennium Jubilee Hall and car park, which is privately owned but rented to the town council, although pedestrian access is still open.

The travellers who were occupying land between Cardew Drift and the Farmhouse pub, began to leave the site yesterday, with around half a dozen remaining last night.

The issue is due before magistrates in Ipswich this afternoon after being adjourned last week.

It was revealed during the impromptu debate that the Section 77 order to evict the travellers last week covered the people on the land, not the land itself, resulting in the order being invalid for additional travellers who arrived later.

Councillors confirmed that both the town and district council websites would be updated regularly to keep people informed of the progress, with police having been briefed and bailiffs on “standby” should an order for eviction be granted.

An additional group of around seven caravans arrived at the pay and display Lime Kiln Quay car park in Woodbridge late on Sunday evening, although they stated they had no knowledge of the Kesgrave group.

One of the group insisted they intended to move on after a couple of days.

Travellers who had also been present at a car park in Iliffe Way in Stowmarket were yesterday confirmed to have moved on by a spokesman from Mid Suffolk District Council.

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