Councillors and residents have criticised the borough’s decision to move a group of travellers to an ‘unsuitable’ site in a ‘prominent’ part of Bury St Edmunds.
Earlier this year the Delaney family were given a ‘temporary toleration agreement’ for a site at Orttewell Road but moved to land near the Flying Fortress pub on Moreton Hall after that came to an end.
Now, St Edmundsbury Borough Council has granted them another temporary stay, this time on land off Compiegne Way which it has spent £1,780 on ‘setting out’ to ‘protect and confine the area’.
The family – whose stay will be permitted until a month after their planning application for a private traveller site off Rougham Hill is determined next year – have been authorised to keep nine caravans at the Compiegne Way site.
But concerns have been raised over ‘dangerous access’ to the site and the impression its ‘prominent position’ between St Saviour’s roundabout turn off and Etna Road will give visitors to the town.
Town councillor Peter Thompson said: “It’s in a really prominent position. It’s the main roundabout into Bury and that’s the first thing you see so I don’t think it’s doing anything for the town.”
County and borough councillor David Nettleton said the site was ‘totally unsuitable’ as it was in a flood plain next to the River Lark, with ‘dangerous access’ off a busy road.
“The whole thing is a complete mess which has been badly mismanaged by the council from the beginning,” he said.
St Edmundsbury says the traveller family ‘have been advised to only turn left’ when entering or exiting the site, but some are dubious about this happening.
“Nobody’s going to do that–they’re just going to cut across the traffic, creating a traffic hazard first and foremost,” said Cllr Nettleton.
Residents of nearby Etna Road have also raised concerns.
They received a letter from Anne Gower, cabinet member for housing, which told them the site had been chosen ‘to avoid the cost and disruption’ of dealing with ‘further unauthorised encampment’.
None wished to be named.
One resident, a woman of 64, said: “I think it’s going to wreak havoc on an already busy road and is disgusting to be honest.”
“If I wanted to get planning permission to build a house there it would be refused because it’s a dangerous outlet, and a flood plain, too,” said a man, age 71.
“It looks a bit unsafe to come in and out of – it’s not the right approach for a start and could cause an accident,” said a woman, age 62.
Tom Delaney said, on Monday, that his family had been working on the Compiegne Way site, ‘putting membrane and stone down so there’s a nice hard base’, and would move in once they had levelled it off.
“The site we’re preparing now, I think it’s ideal – no neighbours overlook it,” he said.
“It’s a proper dropped kerb, it’s a proper access so I don’t know what their concerns are – at the end of the day, we’ve got to go somewhere,” he added.
The decision to allow the family a temporary stay at the site was made by council officers under delegated powers.