Travellers face eviction

A group of travellers in Denton, near Bungay, will be evicted from the illegal site where they have spent more than three years, councillors agreed yesterday.

A group of travellers will be evicted from the illegal site where they have spent more than three years, councillors agreed yesterday.

But it is unlikely to be able to carry out the eviction for a year or more, because the travellers are intending to appeal against the refusal of planning permission - even though it is the fourth time they have been refused permission to stay at Middle Road in Denton, near Bungay.

South Norfolk Council's cabinet yesterday agreed to evict the five families from the land which they own in Denton, and also agreed that it would not provide its land at Rushall Road in Harleston as an alternative place for them to live.

The Rushall Road site was granted planning permission, which was later withdrawn by the council. An appeal against the refusal is now under way.

Philip Brown, the agent for the travellers, told the EDP yesterday that he would appeal against the refusal of planning permission for the Denton site, which was decided two weeks ago.

He said: “I will be lodging an appeal against the planning refusal. It is not for me to say whether the council will postpone the enforcement action, but I should think so.

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“Personally I think it is ridiculous that they should be pursuing that action when the residents are actively trying to find somewhere else to live.”

Lisa Smith, who has been leading the gipsies' fight to stay where they are, was in tears as the council announced its decision yesterday.

She said: “We have got no idea what we are going to do. Legal action is a possibility. Everything has got to be weighed up by our lawyers.”

Council leader Vivienne Clifford-Jackson said: “We had an unenviable decision to make but the law must be upheld. This is an illegal site where planning permission has been refused four times. A planning inspector ruled against it as a gipsy site after a long inquiry. A high court judge backed our handling of this issue.

“We understand the sadness of the gipsy families and the great concern of the settled community. We now appeal to the gipsy families to leave the site and save taxpayers much of the cost of direct action. Up to £150,000 has had to be set aside for direct action.

“Cabinet has asked head of planning services John Tomlinson to decide the enforcement timetable, subject to the legal requirement for an updated human rights assessment.

“This council has appealed to the south Norfolk community time and again to help find suitable sites for gipsies and travellers. We ask again now because we must all do everything we can to avoid repeating the heartache this issue has caused.”

Phil Waltham, the council's portfolio holder for the environment and planning, said: “This sad but inevitable conclusion emphasises the key need for traveller sites in the area. We continue our appeal for any possible sites for travellers in South Norfolk.”