Traveller site near Norwich could reopen

The travellers site at Bawburgh which has been closed. Photo: Archant

The travellers site at Bawburgh which has been closed. Photo: Archant - Credit: Archant

A stopping place for Gypsies and Travellers could reopen after fires, thefts and assaults on officers forced it to close.  

The Bawburgh temporary stopping place (TSP), just off the A47, opened in 2014 with six pitches as an area for Gypsies and Travellers to stay for short periods.  

A report to the South Norfolk Council people and communities committee ahead of a meeting tomorrow says there have been several issues at the site over the years, ending in a temporary closure in July 2020. 

Lead was stolen from the roof of the South Norfolk Council headquarters in Long Stratton on October

The South Norfolk Council people and communities policy committee will meet on Thursday - Credit: Archant

“There have been occasions when officers visiting the TSP have been threatened and indeed assaulted by individuals living on the site, causing understandable reticence and lone working issues.” 

An out-of-control fire on the site, allegedly by residents burning waste, finally prompted closure. 

The report suggests burning waste was a regular occurrence, possibly as a way of disposing of fly-tipped waste. 

READ MORE: More traveller sites are needed across Norfolk

Letters found on the TSP suggested waste had come from across Norfolk, indicating an unlicensed waste service was operating from the site.  

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When officers went to check to see if residents and those illegally camped had vacated, they discovered the theft of portable toilets and four waste bins at a cost of around £1,400 to the council. 

The village sign at Bawburgh depictung St Walstan. Picture: Dr Andrew Tullett

The village sign at Bawburgh. Picture: Dr Andrew Tullett - - Credit: Archant

Residents at the site were required to pay a £40 per week rent, but collection was described as “problematic” with periods where no rent was paid at all. 

Reasons for non-payment were given as affordability and concerns about site conditions, something the council challenged accusing occupants of being the “primary reason for the poor conditions.” 

Since opening, the site has had to be cleared of waste and toxic materials on several occasions at the council’s expense.  

Two options for the site’s future have been presented to the committee: reopening with an extensive list of improvements, including CCTV, or, closing the site for good. 

The estimated cost of the improvements to security and on-site facilities are more than £125,000. 

Bawburgh Parish Council chairman, David Goodman, said he was pleased to hear a review was being carried out on the site.  

Bawburgh Village Hall. Travellers have pitched up in the car park. Photo: Archant

Travellers have pitched up in the village hall car park during lockdown - Credit: Archant

Mr Goodman stressed that travellers needed sites to stay but bad apples were making it difficult for others. 

“We’re not being Nimbys,” he said. “We can’t be against travellers having a site but it needs to be properly managed.” 

The committee meeting starts at 2.30pm on Thursday, February 11, and can be viewed on the South Norfolk YouTube channel.

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