Councils call traveller site meetings

PUBLIC meetings are planned at Earsham and Kirby Cane in the wake of this week's announcement that both villages have been earmarked for possible permanent travellers' sites.

PUBLIC meetings are planned at Earsham and Kirby Cane in the wake of this week's announcement that both villages have been earmarked for possible permanent travellers' sites.

The options, published this week by South Norfolk District Council are sure to prompt considerable local opposition - with Kirby Cane Parish Council already voting against the move for land at Church Road being made a reserve site, to be used should the preferred site, off the old Harleston road, Earsham, be deemed not suitable.

At Earsham, a special parish council meeting could be held as early as next week to discuss the proposal, which chairman Gordon Wrigley admitted was not unexpected.

“We are organising a special meeting to discuss it and drawn up our response to it - it is no surprise they are proposing a site at old Harleston road - it has been rumoured for a while,” he said yesterday.

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“The good news is that one condition of it going there is that it would be conditional on the illegal site at Five-Acre Lane (on the opposite side of the Bungay bypass) being vacated. That is good news because it is an eyesore.”

He added: There will be opposition from the village, but if a site has got to go somewhere in this area the old Harleston road is close to the main road, but not visible - it is out of sight, out of mind. As far as the village is concerned it is sufficiently away, discreetly positioned and would not create any eyesore.”

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Mr Wrigley said six or seven years ago there was a proposal to close the old road at the Earsham end to turn it into a walking and cycling route only, but at that stage the council was concerned that it would become a permanent hard standing for illegal encampments.

He was hopeful the special meeting would be held next week, and a public meeting would follow, at which the district council would outline its proposals.

At Kirby Cane, where the Church Road site is a reserve site should the preferred site not go ahead, Kirby Cane and Ellingham Parish Council decided this week to hold a public meeting on Friday, September 19, at 7.30pm in the Memorial Hall where a spokesman from South Norfolk will be present to answer any questions residents may have. The parish council decided to object to the site.

The two sites are among 20 specific locations identified in south Norfolk for proposed permanent gipsy and traveller sites. The council has to provide a total of 28 permanent pitches in the area, and eight have been agreed so far. Monday's meeting of the cabinet is being recommended to go ahead with public consultation on them, starting on September 23.

Council leader, John Fuller, said: “We had a shortlist of about 25 sites which have been whittled down. It's a job we didn't really want to do, but we have to do, and it's been carried out in a rational and considered manner involving as many people as possible.”

He stressed that the permanent sites were a form of social housing and the residents would be contributing to the community by paying council tax. But he added that the choice of sites may not please everybody, and could prove controversial.

Each site would provide between six to eight pitches for gipsy and traveller families. South Norfolk is also looking to provide a total of three transit sites, each with up to four pitches, and is working with the county council to find suitable locations.

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