Cash windfall for travellers' sites

PUBLISHED: 06:22 08 March 2008 | UPDATED: 08:52 13 July 2010

Illegal travellers' camps that blight East Anglia could be squeezed out as a result of the government's decision to hand over millions of pounds for a new network of permanent sites.

Illegal travellers' camps that blight Norfolk could be squeezed out as a result of the government's decision to hand over millions of pounds for a new network of permanent sites.

Council leaders said the windfall would “strengthen their arm” in moving on or prosecuting travellers who ignore the legal provision and set up ad-hoc camps.

But there was some local unrest about possible environmental damage in sensitive areas.

Almost £7m has been doled out to the East Anglian region by the Department of Communities and Local Government, with Norfolk getting more than half. The grants include:

£565,000 for a 10-pitch site next to the North Norfolk District Council headquarters at Cromer.

£1.34m for an extension to the camp at Gapton Hall, near Yarmouth

£1.16m for a new, eight-pitch site at Harford Bridge in south Norwich

£844,000 for a 10-pitch site beside the Fakenham bypass

The handouts come six weeks after the East of England Regional Assembly approved plans forcing every council in the region to provide at least 15 new caravan pitches for gipsies and travellers by 2011.

Cromer town councillor Keith Johnson said the money was welcome but the proposed site was not. The town council objected to the site during the consultation.

He said: “We welcome this funding because without designated sites the travellers will be parking in other places that are not so desirable.

“What is in question is the site. It is next to an area of outstanding natural beauty and at the very edge of Cromer. We need to protect the boundaries of the town and not have any more expansion outwards.”

Fakenham town councillor Dennis Beare was also sceptical. He said: “I've got mixed feelings. I am not very keen on having it near Fakenham. I have made my feelings clear on that.

“Outside the main building in Cromer they can look after them. I am not sure that the one here is going to be looked after.”

All of the site expansions and new sites are subject to planning permission being granted.

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