Ruffley Intervenes to Demand Council Checks Lawfulness of Travellers' Encampment

Tuesday, 3 August, 2004

David Ruffley has acted immediately following calls from constituents in Woolpit, Tostock and Elmswell concerned about the travellers who have set up an encampment in a field on the outskirts of Woolpit.

The text of the letter David has sent today to Councillor Roger Saunders, Leader of Mid Suffolk District Council is below:

I have been contacted this morning by constituents in Woolpit, Elmswell and Tostock concerned about the newly established travellers' encampment on land north of the A14 and west of the A1088 on the edge of Woolpit.

I understand the site consists of eighteen parcels of land believed to be owned individually by the occupiers.

A tarmac access road was constructed yesterday and the site has been divided by fencing into individual caravan/parking lots. Water and electricity supplies have been connected. However, I am told there is no sewerage connection.

My constituents are extremely concerned about the legality of this encampment. I should be grateful if you could let me have answers to the following points:

1. Is the land being occupied legally? If not, what enforcement action is Mid Suffolk District Council taking against the occupiers?

2. Has the installation of services and other construction work carried out on the land been done in compliance with the Authority's strict planning and change of use rules?

3. Are there any Health and Safety Executive issues that may be raised in relation to sanitation?

4. What action will be taken to prevent pollution of the nearby watercourse?

I share my constituents concern that the planning laws must be enforced effectively and with despatch- we can't have one rule for one and one rule for another.

In view of the huge local concern about this situation can you please look into this matter urgently and let me have a rapid response to the points I have raised.

I am copying this letter to the local Parish Councils and District Councillor.

I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenient.