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More traveller sites needed in Norfolk, councillors claim

PUBLISHED: 06:28 12 June 2018 | UPDATED: 08:29 12 June 2018

Travellers have moved onto the car park of Bawburgh Village Hall. Photo: Supplied

Travellers have moved onto the car park of Bawburgh Village Hall. Photo: Supplied

Archant

More traveller sites are needed across Norfolk in order to reduce the number of unauthorised encampments.

Bawburgh Village Hall. Travellers have pitched up in the car park. Photo: ArchantBawburgh Village Hall. Travellers have pitched up in the car park. Photo: Archant

That is the view of town and parish councillors who have had to deal with unauthorised traveller camps in recent weeks.

On Sunday, a group moved onto the car park of Bawburgh Village Hall, at Stocks Hill, without permission.

And just last week, travellers were moved off Roundwell Monument in Costessey after being shifted from land at Longwater.

Norfolk Police has served a notice to the latest group at Bawburgh ordering them to leave by 9am today.

The travellers site at Bawburgh which has been closed. Photo: ArchantThe travellers site at Bawburgh which has been closed. Photo: Archant

But councillors say a more-long term solution is needed.

David Goodman, chairman of Bawburgh Parish Council, said the village had been dealing with “incursions” from travellers for eight years.

He said it was an “enormous frustration” as it can lead to the parish council having to pick up the cost.

“We feel powerless,” Mr Goodman said. “We are a low-financed parish council, and if we have to go for an eviction order we have to go through the courts, and that will cost us hundreds of pounds.”

He said there were four caravans and five support vehicles parked at the village hall.

It comes as a nearby travellers’ transit site, next to Costessey Park and Ride, was temporarily closed by South Norfolk Council.

The local authority said it had to close the land due to extensive fly-tipping.

A South Norfolk Council spokesman was unable to provide a date as to when the site will reopen.

Tim East, who represents Costessey on Norfolk County Council, said a lack of official traveller sites was leading to unauthorised encampments.

He said it can cost local councils up to £800 to evict travellers by going through

the courts.

“The answer is to resurrect the idea of local authorities having to provide licensed sites,” he said. “Because this is an ongoing problem and will come round and round again.”

“The solution is to use some of the disused airfields,” Mr East added. “But [local] authorities say we can’t do that because they are too far away from local services.”

The travellers at Bawburgh Village Hall did not wish to comment.

Transit site

A spokesman for South Norfolk Council said there are 73 gypsy and traveller caravan pitches in the district.

Of those, 32 are for rent and 41 are classed as “owner occupiers”.

In regard to the travellers’ transit site, the spokesman said the land was closed due to damage to a fence and fly-tipping.

“We are in the process of procuring contractors and will have clearer idea of when the site will reopen once they have been appointed,” the spokesman said.

“Investigations into the fly-tipping are being pursued with the families in the vicinity who were previously on the site.”

The spokesman said the transit site, next to Costessey Park and Ride, assisted with “managing” unauthorised encampments, adding that costs for the site were £1,800 in 2017/18.

He said South Norfolk Council follows the Norfolk protocol for managing unauthorised encampments.

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