Travellers to be evicted from public park.
Council officials have started the first stage in the process to evict travellers the 20 caravans that have taken up residence in the town’s Langer Park, but successful legal action could still be some days away.
Last week Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said he was making it easier for councils to deal promptly with illegal traveller sites.
Councils can use temporary notices to remove unauthorised caravans, pre-emptive injunctions to protect vulnerable land in advance, and possession orders to remove trespassers from land.
But it is the welfare audit to check individuals’ health and circumstances on the sites that takes the time.
Suffolk Coastal leader Ray Herring said: “Staff from Suffolk Coastal, in partnership with Suffolk County Council, have now visited the unauthorised encampment on Langer Park, Felixstowe, to carry out the initial welfare audit, as required by law.
“The welfare audit, to establish the wellbeing of the occupants of the encampment, signifies the first step in the process to ensure that the partners can take appropriate action to remove all the travellers, their vehicles and possessions from the site at the earliest opportunity.
“We are fully aware of the inconvenience this encampment may cause regular users of the park and would like to reassure local people that we intend to take all available steps, in line with legislation, to remove the occupants from site as soon as possible.
“Once we have dealt with this encampment, we also intend to review all aspects of this incident, including the options open to us to improve security at this and other parks and car parks in the area.
“However, any such review will have to be carried out in the light of the requirements of other customers to use these areas, as well as the cost implications to the council.”
Felixstowe councillor Doreen Savage said the gates to the park had been left locked at the end of the carnival at the weekend.
She added: “Council officers have spoken to the travellers and asked them to secure the dogs that were roaming the park.”