Well-behaved travellers may stay put

Travellers on illegal sites in Suffolk may not be evicted if they follow guidelines on their behaviour. A county-wide plan has been drawn up for dealing with unauthorised sites.

Travellers on illegal sites in Suffolk may not be evicted if they follow guidelines on their behaviour.

A county-wide plan has been drawn up for dealing with unauthorised sites.

Illegal traveller sites have been set up 40 times in Suffolk in the space of a year, and there are thought to be about 150 people who regularly camp illegally. There are about 460 gipsies and travellers living on legal sites.

Suffolk County Council is determined to improve the way it deals with travellers - both authorised and unauthorised - and councillors are set to discuss a new framework for managing issues surrounding them.

It says unauthorised sites will be visited by the authorities - police or councils or both - within 48 hours and a case conference held within five days. A code of conduct for illegal sites has been drawn up, which includes asking for groups to be kept small (six caravans or fewer), not to cause traffic or fire safety issues, and for travell-ers to tidy up after themselves.

The report to next week's council cabinet says: “In general terms, if gipsies and travellers on unauthorised land adhere to the code of practice, local authorities across Suffolk are more likely to 'tolerate' the encampment for a limited time (depending on operational need of the land or any special scientific interest requirements). The aim is to limit any potential and significant resource pressures on Suffolk County Council, as well as all local authorities.”

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Evictions are more likely to be carried out if travellers are camped in urban parks, on school grounds in term times, or on sites of special scientific interest.

There is a shortage of authorised traveller sites in Suffolk and across East Anglia, and district councils are looking for more pitches.

The new strategy also promises practical help for the traveller community, where nearly 20pc of mothers suffer the death of a child. It is set to go before all district councils in Suffolk and the county council.

Joanna Spicer, portfolio holder for public protection at the county council, said the strategy would lead to a more efficient way of dealing with travellers: “Until now, all seven districts have acted with their own policies. If this strategy is adopted, it will mean the same regulations applying to travellers in Ipswich or Lowestoft. It is a real step forward.”

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