Authority blamed for £2,000 traveller costs

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BRECKLAND Council’s mistakes in choosing a travellers’ site is costing Thetford, according to a town councillor.

Cllr John Harding’s comments at Thetford Town Council on Tuesday came after members heard that moving on travellers from Barnham Common could take at least another seven to 10 days and has already cost the council £2,000 in legal fees.

He said the town council had been ‘sold down the river’ by Breckland after it decided to position a mandatory travellers’ site just off the A11 – a position the town council resisted at the time.

“We were forced under the law to have that travellers’ site put in and we suggested at the time that it should be elsewhere.

“Now we are getting travellers year after year on our common and have been forced to go to court and spend our money – it’s a crazy situation,” he said.

Members heard an email from Graham Parfitt, a Breckland legal executive, stating that one family was on the site.

The group included 11 children, three caravans, 25 dogs and approximately 11 horses, according to the email.

It stated that the travellers were asking for an extended period to vacate the site as four of the horses were in foal.

No complaints of anti-social behaviour had been received and the site was tidy, according to Mr Parfitt.

The town council voted to tell Breckland it wanted the travellers to move with immediate effect.

Gordon Partridge, Breckland’s principal environmental health officer, said the travellers were in too large a group to all stay at the A11 site.

“Unfortunately, the size of their group plus their grazing horses is such that they cannot be accommodated on the short stay site exclusively.

“Breckland Council does not have the power to force the travellers on to the short-stay site if they do not want to stay there,” he said.