Suffolk County Council looks to sell travellers site at West Meadows in Ipswich

West Meadows travellers site in Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT

West Meadows travellers site in Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT

Suffolk County Council has put forward plans to sell the gypsy and traveller site at West Meadows in Ipswich saying it costs the authority too much money to keep it running.

The future of the 41-pitch site, which is home to 100 people including 44 children, will be discussed by the cabinet next Tuesday.

A report published yesterday says despite trying out various ways to run the site, the council is “unable to generate sufficient revenue to cover costs”.

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

However, before 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.

A council spokesman said: “Up front everything will be done to let the new owners know what we expect from them.”

But fears have been raised the families living at the site could be left without a home if a new landlord decides to change the terms of their tenancy.

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Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere said: “They are essentially throwing 100 people, including 44 children, out of their homes. This is a disgraceful decision by the county council.

“We don’t have enough sites for gypsy and travellers anyway and they are potentially reducing that number.

“You look at the Suffolk County Council report and ask yourself why would anybody buy this with a restrictive covenant for gypsy and traveller provision when the council admits it loses money.

“The only potential bright spot on this proposal is that they may not be able to get anybody to buy it. If somebody does buy it you can only imagine they are doing so in the hope at some point in the future there will be a more economically valuable use for it.

“You can set up a permanent covenant, but it is possible for a landlord to buy out of it.

“We have seen there have been a number of illegal encampments in Ipswich recently. If this number increases in the future then everyone in the county will know why.”

The responsibility to provide housing for the gypsy and traveller community rests with district and borough councils.

A meeting is planned with West Meadows residents the week after the cabinet meeting.