Travellers move to new site on Moreton Hall

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A traveller community, which has been illegally encamped on Moreton Hall for weeks, moved to a new site overnight.

The group, which currently consists of 20 caravans and tents, was ordered to quit a football pitch at Heldhaw Road yesterday and has since moved to Ten Acre Field, off Symonds Road.

Travellers Moreton Hall

Travellers Moreton Hall

It was previously encamped in Pond Grove Close Open Space, off Barton Road, and Layhill Covert, off Symonds Road.

John Delaney, one of the travellers, said: “We’ve been up and down here for donkey’s years. I think this town is a tremendously clean and respectable town. I like it, otherwise I wouldn’t have been here for so long.”

He added: “We were born and raised in this country and, at the end of the day, we need a home. We’re making an effort to keep away from the houses and, every park we go to, we leave 100 per cent.”

Council workers spent two hours today clearing rubbish from the former encampment site in Heldhaw Road.

Travellers Morton hall

Travellers Morton hall

Saddened by being tarred with the same brush as some other traveller communities, Mr Delaney said: “You get bad apples on estates but that doesn’t mean the whole estate is bad. Everybody’s an individual and, if anybody does anything wrong, they should be held accountable, and them alone.”

There are six regulars in his group who would like a hard-standing pitch to call home.

Mr Delaney said: “People ask what our intentions are. It’s to get through life with as little hassle as possible.”

He added: “If they (the council) allocate a bit of land for us, we’ll do the work on it ourselves. We don’t want anybody to pay a penny for us. Whatever has to be done to make it liveable within the law, we’ll do it.

“We want to go get registered with a doctor and a dentist. We can’t put our kids through school and, with them growing up, we don’t want that for them. We want to be settled.”

The group attended the Moreton Hall fun day on Sunday where, staff at the community centre have confirmed, they donated around £200 to charity.

“We had a small collection amongst us all,” said Mr Delaney.

“When people get to know us, it’s a whole new kettle of fish,” he added.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council has issued the group with several court orders over the past few weeks. Each one costs £200.

Mr Delaney said: “I have done this ever since the day I was born. My father did it before me, God rest his soul. It’s water off a duck’s back.”

Inspector Jane Hertzog said: “Suffolk Police are aware of the travellers in Moreton Hall and do not condone unlawful encampments. We have been liaising with St Edmundsbury Borough Council and partner agencies to find a resolution.

“Officers and the council have visited the site and procedures are underway to evict those currently residing on the field off Symonds Road.

“We understand that these situations can sometimes be frustrating for local residents but we would assure them that between ourselves and the council action is being taken resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”

The group have been getting to and from Ten Acre Field by driving on the cycle/pedestrian path in Symonds Road.

A police spokesman said he was are aware of this and confirmed it was an offence to do so.

A council spokeswoman said: “The council and the police are working together to minimise the impact the presence of the group of travellers is having on the settled community, while working to move them on as quickly as possible. The council has taken legal advice and has begun the legal process for removal.

“We are logging all calls from residents affected by the unauthorised occupation. If you are directly affected please telephone the council switchboard during normal working hours 01284 764322 or email at any time. If the matter concerns criminality or antisocial behaviour please call Suffolk Police on 101.”