Sale of West Meadows travellers’ site delayed to allow more talks

West Meadows travellers site in Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT

West Meadows travellers site in Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT

Discussions about the possible sale of West Meadows travellers’ site on the edge of Ipswich have been deferred for a month by Suffolk County Council.

It will now consider the possible sale at its cabinet meeting in November to allow more talks with residents of the site – and to allow them to present a petition to councillors.

The sale of the site was due to be discussed at yesterday’s meeting of the council’s cabinet.

However when it came to that item on the agenda, council leader Colin Noble said it was necessary to delay the decision because of two factors.

A petition was being gathered by residents of the site and he felt that should be presented to councillors before any final decision on the future of the land was made.

And officials from the county are currently preparing to hold a meeting with residents to give them the chance to give their views on what should happen to the site.

Opposition Labour councillors seized on the delay as an admission that the council was rushing ahead too fast with the debate.

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The postponement can be seen as an admission that full consultation with the residents had not taken place and at no stage had the council listened to the concerns of the residents about the planned sale.

Labour group leader Sandra Gage said; “It was clear that the County Council had gone about this in completely the wrong way. They have not engaged with the borough and district councils, the police and other stakeholders.

“Most importantly though they have not consulted with those people who have made the site their homes. We welcome the decision, but it raises the question of why the council did not talk to residents sooner.”

West Meadows has 41-pitches and is home to 100 people including 44 children.

The cabinet report said despite trying out various ways to run the site, the council is “unable to generate sufficient revenue to cover costs”.

It says within the last 18 months repairs and damage to the site have cost the council around £390,000.

However, if the land is sold the council says a covenant will be put in place to secure the site’s future for use for the travelling community and to safeguard the people currently living there.