Travellers lose fight to stay on site

TRAVELLERS living at a site in Elmswell have today vowed to stay and fight after their application to develop the land was turned down.Eighteen families controversially staying at a site north of the A14 and Woolpit were hoping they would be given permission to stay today as Mid Suffolk district council met to decide on their future.

TRAVELLERS living at a site in Elmswell have today vowed to stay and fight after their application to develop the land was turned down.

Eighteen families controversially staying at a site north of the A14 and Woolpit were hoping they would be given permission to stay today as Mid Suffolk district council met to decide on their future.

But the travellers did not get the answer they were hoping for.

Councillors said not enough information had been put forward with the application, which is outside local settlement boundaries, and the bid was turned down.

The travellers, who have been developing the site since August, have said they are going to launch an appeal.

Phoebie Harbour is one of the travellers. She said: "We are very disappointed but are going to appeal straight away.

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"The council hasn't given us a chance. It is just coming up with excuses to pass us on but it won't work.

"We won't be passed on – we will stay and fight.

"We will keep working on the land while we appeal and we'll get there in the end.

"The council says we haven't answered their questions but we haven't been asked any so how are we suppose to give answers."

The crutch of the council's argument was that it had not been explained what the ancillary works entailed.

However, the travellers say they had not received a letter asking for further information because the council had not given them a postal address.

Councillor Carol Milward said: "We are between a rock and a hard place and I'm being torn both ways.

"I believe everybody has the right to live somewhere but the situation is not being helped by what's going on with the Government.

"I had to look at this as a planning issue and it's not the first time I've wanted to be compassionate but couldn't."

More than 70 letters of objection were sent to the council. Concerns included dangerous access to the site, the impact on amenities and setting a precedent for future applications.

Kit Sampson, 80, former gypsy liaison officer for the East Anglian Regional Health Authority, said: "I have known these families for years and they are authentic gypsies who have travelled this area for generations.

"These people have for so long been denied the rights to education and health and we wanted the council to show some humanity."

Suffolk County Council said there is a need for a travellers' site in west Suffolk.

The council-owned sites in the east of the county are full and have waiting lists.

Councillor Andrew Stringer has lived in a caravan. He said: "I know more than most what it's like.

"The housing policy has failed these people and they should be supported wherever they are willing to sink in their own money."

Do you think the travellers should be allowed to stay? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk