Cromer travellers' site protest

RICHARD BATSON Cromer has lodged an 11th hour protest at plans to put a travellers' transit camp on its doorstep. A site on the Holt Road, next to a council office and planned police station, was earmarked as a favoured location by officials.

RICHARD BATSON

Cromer has lodged an 11th hour protest at plans to put a travellers' transit camp on its doorstep.

A site on the Holt Road, next to a council office and planned police station, was earmarked as a favoured location by officials.

The 10-van temporary camp, along with a similar one off Fakenham bypass, were suggested after a three-month, £10,000 public consultations boiled down a long list of 30 to just two - a year ago.


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Neither community made major protests along the way, but Fakenham belatedly weighed in with a campaign resulting in a parish poll which gave a landslide 1472 to 82 “no” vote.

Now Cromer has joined the opposition with just two week to go before a Christmas deadline for responses to the site suggestions.

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Angry local residents packed the public gallery, and spilled into the entrance lobby at a town meeting to air their views.

Patterns of previous traveller visits show they tend to stay for just a couple of weeks in the summer, as a holiday break.

But resident Roger Hardy said people feared that with a “nice hard standing site with toilets” at Cromer they could stay months instead

Others wanted the site rejected claiming crime rose during the travellers' visits, but PC Medler said figures did not bear that out.

Town clerk Julie Chance reported that 27 letters of objection and one of support had also been received by the council.

Tony Nash, who represented Cromer at the earlier site consultation forum, said sites in local villages were dropped because of vociferous opposition. Four sites in Cromer were fended off but there “was not enough ammunition to fight this one.”

But councillors agreed to respond to people's fears and to object to the site - calling on North Norfolk District Council officials to look again for another location.

Poor advertising for a public meeting and failure to distribute consultation questionnaires to all homes in Cromer meant people did not have the chance to protest, said Vera Woodcock.

She said the Holt Road site was in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on main gateway into Cromer.

Keith Johnson admitted “we as councillors and residents” had let the Holt Road site get this far, but failing to shout as loud as nearby villages.

And he suggested other options could include the eyesore old brickworks site near East Runton, which had been ruled earlier.

District council community director Steve Blatch said he would be asking the town council to suggest alternative sites.

There was a need for a transit site and the Holt Road location had close supervision and good access, unlike other local options off the Runton Road and Norwich Road.

Wherever sites were proposed there would be “a degree of opposition and objection”, and the district council would have to decide whether to proceed with or abandon the favoured sites. However it was hoped to make planning applications for the selected sites by February.

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