Gypsy families stand firm at Ravenswood

SEVENTEEN Gypsy families today vowed to stand firm in their decision to resist efforts to move them from a patch of land in Ipswich despite being threatened with legal action.

Tom Potter

SEVENTEEN Gypsy families today vowed to stand firm in their decision to resist efforts to move them from a patch of land in Ipswich despite being threatened with legal action.

Ipswich Borough Council has given the group of families until tomorrow to vacate the area just south of the Ravenswood housing development, after they parked their caravans and mobile homes there.

The families, who have been camped off the road leading to Orwell Country Park for the last week, have hit out at the treatment they feel they have received and the lack of proper facilities for travelling families.

Mick Lee, 40, who acted as a spokesperson for the families, said: “We've been having trouble with kids throwing stones and we've had abuse shouted at us on occasions because we live in caravans.

“Because we're gypsies we're treated worse than any other member of society. Some of us do this during the summer, some of us have houses.

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“It's no different to going camping.”

Ipswich Borough Council launched legal action to move the families on once it was determined there were no vulnerable people within the families, such as children in need of care or elderly people.

The case is due to go before South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court tomorrow.

Diane Webster, another of the gypsies at the site, came with her four children.

The 37-year-old said: “I've been travelling for as long as I can remember and my family and I have been to lots of places where people have been really civil.

“But we went to the shops here and people looked at us like we had horns growing out of our heads.

“It takes all sorts to make a society and for people to think that we are all thieves and murderers is like us thinking that every teenager in Ipswich has been throwing stones at us.”

What do you think of the situation at Ravenswood? E-mail or write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

IPSWICH Borough Council launched legal action after a series of complaints from Ravenswood residents following the arrival of the families.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “We have received six phone calls and two emails from residents regarding the site.

“A case conference was attended by our Gypsies and Travellers Liaisons Officer as well as the council's environmental team. The police were also in attendance along with one Ravenswood resident and two of the travellers.”

If the council is successful when it takes the case before magistrates tomorrow, the court will appoint a bailiff to take possession of the land.

One angry Ravenswood resident will be pleased to see the gypsies removed from the area. He said: “My housemate and his elderly mother and I decided to take a walk in the park.

“We were minding our own business and walking along the path when we were stopped by a gentleman who was busy barricading the path to stop walkers from freely walking on the public footpath.

“We have been residents on this estate for years and don't wish to see it being ruined by having a campsite facing onto our properties.

“I do hope that the council deal with this issue safely and as quickly as possible as it is not fair that we should no longer be allowed to walk freely on the public footpaths.”

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