Travellers' site wins approval

Residents in Thetford vowed to fight on after a travellers' camp was approved on the town's outskirts today.People living in the Abbey Estate described the decision by Breckland Council to back the short stay site on land off the A11 close to the estate as “out of order” and said that their part of town was being used as a “dumping ground”.

Residents in Thetford vowed to fight on after a travellers' camp was approved on the town's outskirts today.

People living in the Abbey Estate described the decision by Breckland Council to back the short stay site on land off the A11 close to the estate as “out of order” and said that their part of town was being used as a “dumping ground”.

The council received a 579-name petition signed against the plans and speaking after the meeting secretary of the Abbey Tenants' and Residents' Association Pauline Quadling said she feared that the estate would be blamed for crime and anti-social behaviour from the camp.

The camp will house up to six caravans, which will be allowed to stay for a maximum of 28-days, and is estimated would be in use for about eight weeks of the year.

Breckland members approved the camp after hearing that it would give police powers to move on travellers from recurrent illegal encampments on places like Barnham Cross Common.

Anita Brennan, strategic housing manager, told the meeting that it had cost the council £10,000 to clear up after a recent incursion at Barnham Cross Common and that the government had said it must find a short stay site in Thetford.

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Mrs Quadling, who is also a town councillor, said it would damage decades of work to tackle crime and deprivation on the estate and improve its image around town.

“We want to take this further, we feel discriminated against, we are used as a dumping ground,” she said.

“In the past travellers have meant problems with mess and crime and we will be tarred with the same brush after all our hard work.

“If they worked with Thetford residents we could have worked out a site that would have been OK.”

She said that residents did not know about the roadshows held by the council to consult the public about the plans until after they had taken place.

Leader of Breckland Council William Nunn said that the site was the best for local people and for travellers and would save money and upset for taxpayers by tackling illegal encampments.

Anglian Water also objected to the plans because of the site's proximity to its sewage and sludge processing plant which it said would lead to problems with smell and danger from the stream of lorries servicing the plant.

The site will include an area of hardstanding, skips, Portaloos and access to running water and will be locked when it is not in use.