'Non-confrontational' approach to travellers in Thetford

PUBLISHED: 10:19 04 August 2010 | UPDATED: 10:03 16 September 2010

BRECKLAND Council officials have opted to take a 'non-confrontational' approach to travellers in Thetford by simply asking them to move on as soon as possible.

BRECKLAND Council officials have opted to take a “non-confrontational” approach to travellers in Thetford by simply asking them to move on as soon as possible.

As many as a dozen caravans and associated paraphernalia have been spotted on a piece of land near to Canterbury Way in the past few weeks and questions have been raised by people living nearby about what is being done to remove them.

Earlier this year the council was granted a court order to move on a group who set up camp on Barnham Cross Common in the town. This time however officials have visited the group on several occasions and regularly monitored the site instead.

A spokeswoman said the decision not to apply for a court order was decided by officers who believed the current approach would “achieve a better outcome”.

She added: “Breckland has been following the Norfolk protocol for the consideration of unauthorised encampments in conjunction with Home Office guidance.

“Having been made aware of the encampment, Breckland officers have followed these procedures and have visited the site regularly to assess the impact of the incursion and monitor the site. This included an assessment on the impact of the encampment on the settled community, any highways issues and reports of any anti-social behaviour involving the families.

“During visits officers have been in discussions with the travellers about alternative sites and consideration has been given with regards to displacement issues.”

Officers have now come to an agreement with the group that the majority will leave by the end of the week, and the remainder will be spoken to about alternative locations.

Thetford town clerk, Ed Chambers, said a letter would be drafted on behalf of the town council, asking Breckland and the police to clarify their position on the best course of action.

He added: “I think it's safe to say that as a town council it is disappointing to hear no court order will be sought.”

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