Crime-hit traveller site set to reopen with £125,000 revamp

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

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

A stopping place for gypsies and travellers has been recommended for reopening with £125,000 worth of improvements.

The Bawburgh Temporary Stopping Place (TSP), near the A47, was forced to close in July 2020 after a series of incidents at the site, including fire, thefts and assaults.

At a meeting of the South Norfolk Council people and communities committee on Thursday, council officer Mike Pursehouse said the TSP was still relevant today and he was confident lessons had been learnt over the years alongside new national guidance.

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

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

He said: “I wouldn’t for one moment suggest that crime was high among the travelling community, there’s just as much crime among the settled community.

“However, there are elements of the travelling community that will cause crime and by effectively enforcing that we can ensure we are doing our bit, alongside our police colleagues, to keep crime and disorder as low as we can.”

Mr Pursehouse outlined a series of possible improvements, including layout changes, site management, and security with CCTV, which he expected to cost £125,000.

Councillor Florence Ellis said it was important to get the site right this time, with support for whoever managed it.

She said: “We don’t want any failings again, because it does cost us more money and that in the long term costs the taxpayer money.”

Travellers have moved onto the car park of Bawburgh Village Hall. Photo: Supplied

Travellers have used the Bawburgh village hall car park as a camp multiple time over the years - Credit: Archant

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The committee heard the council also had the option to close and sell the site, but there is a statutory duty to provide stopping places for travellers, which the council is currently not meeting.

James Easter also offered support for the site, saying: “I have worked with the travelling community in the past and I would support what I consider to be an essential facility to help this travelling group and prevent them from illegal camping.

“But it does need extremely robust management.”

The committee gave support to reopening the site open with improvements.

The plan will now go to the council cabinet for further discussion.

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