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Bramford: Villagers’ fury over travellers’ site proposal

PUBLISHED: 09:34 14 February 2014 | UPDATED: 09:34 14 February 2014

The consultation meeting in Bramford discussing the proposed travellers site. Kevin Welsby (chair of parish council).

The consultation meeting in Bramford discussing the proposed travellers site. Kevin Welsby (chair of parish council).

Archant

Hundreds of angry residents from Bramford packed a meeting to discuss proposals to create a new travellers’ site on the edge of the village last night.

There was standing room only at the Loraine Victory Hall in the village as officials from Ipswich Borough Council and the county council explained the plans to designate an area at River Hill for five travellers’ pitches.

The vast majority of the audience was hostile to the proposal – fearing it would damage local businesses and would change the character of the village.

The site is in the borough’s boundary, but it is next to the Clarice House health club – and its boss Stuart King warned that creating a travellers’ site could ruin his business.

He said: “We have worked hard to establish Clarice House over the last 20 years but since the news about this site emerged at the weekend our customers have been telling us that if it is developed then they will be leaving us.

“That will mean we will have no option but to close and we have 49 people working there.”

Clarice House has three sites, in Bury St Edmunds and Colchester as well as Bramford and Mr King feared the loss of its original site could lead to the collapse of the whole group.

He said he had been negotiating with Ipswich council – which owns the proposed travellers’ site – to try to buy it to develop his business, and still hoped that might be possible.

Borough planning officer Steve Miller said its proposals were not “written in stone” and were only the first draft of the local plan.

However residents feared that the only reason the site had been chosen was because it was outside the A14 – one of only a few sites in the borough outside the road.

Many also felt that with West Meadows nearby, another part of the town should also have a site: “Why not put it in the northern fringe?” asked one resident.

One speaker, who only gave his name as Steve, questioned whether the site would grow.

The proposal is for five pitches on a substantial piece of land. “We all know what will happen if you try to keep the pitches to a small area of a large plot. Eventually they will spread out all over,” he said.

The meeting will be discussed by Bramford Parish Council at its meeting next week before a formal response is sent to the borough.

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