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Ipswich MP warns travellers will keep using ‘unplanned and illegal sites’ unless policy changes

PUBLISHED: 11:56 15 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:42 15 September 2018

Travellers at Bourne Park Ipswich Picture: ARCHANT

Travellers at Bourne Park Ipswich Picture: ARCHANT

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Ipswich MP Sandy Martin has called for local authorities to be required to plan “adequate and appropriate sites” for travellers during a debate in Parliament.

Sandy Martin (Labour MP for Ipswich). Picture: House of CommonsSandy Martin (Labour MP for Ipswich). Picture: House of Commons

Mr Martin said that in order to successfully move travellers and gypsies on from inappropriate sites “they need to have appropriate sites to be moved on to.”

“Local authorities need to be required to plan adequate and appropriate sites, otherwise they will not do it,” he added.

The comments came amid concerns over a recent arrival of a group of travellers in Bourne Park in Ipswich.

A group of around 10 caravans arrived at the park’s Stoke Park Drive entrance on Sunday.

Ipswich Borough Council said it was taking necessary steps, along with partners, “to secure possession of the site”.

However councillor Bob Hall who represents the Stoke Park division, said the travellers’ previous visit, around Easter 2017, had caused “intimidation” to residents and suggested the council should have taken steps to prevent their return.

The parliamentary debate on “gypsies and travellers”, held on Monday, heard various views from MPs on what could be done to promote community cohesion between the travellers and permanent residents of a constituency.

Andrew Selous, MP for South West Bedford said that while his constituency had successfully integrated many different nationalities, the planning policy of “segregation and separation” over traveller sites made “community cohesion hard to achieve”.

He said his constituents “have had to put up with far more than their fair share of misery”, as a result of the current gypsy and traveller policy. “Threats, violence, theft and other forms of intimidation have become everyday occurrences to some of my constituents,” he added.

Other MPs called for increased police powers and new laws to make trespass illegal, as it is in Ireland.

Mr Martin spoke later in the debate to reiterate his calls for there to be sufficient suitable traveller sites.

“At the moment there are very many unregulated and unenforceable sites, and as long as there are not enough planned sites, gypsies and travellers will continue to use unplanned and illegal sites,” he added.

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