Suffolk: Consultation over short-stay traveller sites is abandoned after huge opposition just days after it was announced
PUBLISHED: 09:00 28 August 2014
Consultation over controversial gypsy and travellers' stopping sites in Suffolk was suddenly abandoned yesterday after council chiefs were deluged with protests.
Officials said in addition to the public feedback, they had received several offers of land from landowners for sites and also many other suggestions of potential temporary sites, all of which need to be fully assessed.
MPs, councillors and residents had objected to the sites put forward jointly by county and district councils and police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore.
The most controversial was at Felixstowe, where a site was suggested on a small council-owned meadow opposite homes in Treetops. Residents launched a petition, the town council called an extraordinary meeting – now cancelled – and insisted consultation sessions were held in the town.
A spokesman for the eight councils and Mr Passmore said the aim had been to select three sites in areas where unauthorised encampments usually occur.
However, following a number of landowners coming forward with other potential sites and early feedback from councillors and residents, Suffolk’s council and policing leaders had decided to halt the current process to enable it to be reconsidered.
It means the seven sites previously identified have therefore been dropped and a fresh list of sites will be worked on prior to public consultation.
The potential sites were:
Lay-by off A143 opposite Shepherds Lane, Wortham
Land between Candlet Road and Treetops, Felixstowe
Lay-by on Felixstowe Road, Levington, south of junction with Bridge Road
Former Little Chef site, Kentford, between Bury Road and A14
Former Chippings Dump, Upthorpe Road, Stanton
Former Little Chef site, off A14 by the Orwell Bridge
And the A140 junction with Castleton Way, Eye.
Suffolk County Council’s leader Mark Bee, speaking for everyone involved in the project, said: “The case for creating short stay stopping sites has been well established and we’ve found a great deal of general support for what we, as public sector bodies in Suffolk, are trying to do to help solve the issue of unauthorised encampments in Suffolk.
“But what’s more important is making sure we have the right sites to consult the public on.
“A number of alternative proposals have been put forward and, in the interest of making the best decisions for Suffolk, they need to be looked at. That is why we’ve taken the early decision to stop the current consultation today and develop a fresh approach.
“This is absolutely the right thing to do to ensure we make the right decisions for Suffolk. We’re committed to working with all partners and communities to take this issue forward.”
All councillor briefings, public drop-in sessions and public meetings organised by Suffolk County Council to support the consultation have been cancelled.
No timescales have been set for when a new consultation will be launched.