Friday, March 7, 2014
1:37 PM

An MP has waded into the heated row over proposals for a new travellers’ site in a north-west Ipswich village, accusing the borough council of plotting a “cynical political ploy”.

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David Ellesmere, the town’s council leader and Labour candidate for the 2015 General Election, chose Bramford as the potential area for a new travellers’ site to avoid angering potential voters in Ipswich, claimed Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich.

In an intervention likely to cause outrage within the Labour party, Dr Poulter labelled controversial proposals to designate an area at River Hill for five travellers’ pitches as “absolutely daft”, unsuitable for the needs of travellers and unsustainable socially, economically and environmentally.

Mr Ellesmere said Dr Poulter’s comments will be taken into account “along with those of everyone else who have responded” during the consultation period, adding it would be inappropriate to comment further until all responses had been received.

The parcel of land earmarked for the new site, on the edge of Bramford and next to the A14 and Clarice House health club and spa, lies within the borough boundary.

The proposals were heavily criticised at a packed Bramford Parish council meeting three weeks ago.

Stuart King, managing director of Clarice House, warned his health club and spa business could close over a loss of custom if the proposals were approved, making 49 people redundant.

Other residents pointed out the north-west area of Ipswich already accommodates travellers at nearby West Meadows.

In a letter written to Mr Ellesmere and seen by the Ipswich Star, Dr Poulter said: “I can see no reason whatsoever for Ipswich Borough Council to position the site in Bramford when other more suitable locations are clearly available.

“This appears to be a thinly disguised political move by the Labour Party designed to take a contentious issue out of the Ipswich constituency and impose it on the residents of Bramford and north-west Ipswich.

“This is a nonsensical but cynical political ploy that is putting 49 local jobs at stake and has nothing to do with the best interests of the travelling community... who can often (have) health and socio-economic problems.

“It would make obvious sense to support the expansion of the existing travellers’ site near Asda by the A14 where facilities already exist to support their needs, or indeed create a site in the Ravenswood area of Ipswich which had previously been suggested as a potential site for travellers.”

He insisted the land could be better used for other community purposes, with pupils at Ormiston and Westbourne academies raising concerns with him over a lack of outdoor community leisure and sport facilities in north Ipswich.

In a statement, Mr Ellesmere said: “Ipswich Borough Council’s consultation on the draft Ipswich Local Plan – which includes a possible new travellers’ site – ends on March 10.

“Mr Poulter’s comments, along with those of everyone else who have responded, will be taken into account when deciding the next version of the plan.

“Obviously, it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment further until the consultation is closed and all responses have been received.”



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