Council move to reassure over gipsy site

South Norfolk Council has sought to reassure residents opposing new gipsy and traveller sites by publishing an interview on its website with the woman who transformed an existing one.

South Norfolk Council has sought to reassure residents opposing new gipsy and traveller sites by publishing an interview on its website with the woman who transformed an existing one.

Gipsy Gloria Buckley was made an MBE in the Queen's birthday honours for her tireless work for her people and for community relations.

She is best known locally for turning around South Norfolk Council's Roundwell gipsy and traveller site at Costessey, transforming it with her husband Trevor from a “rat-infested war zone” into a national model of what a small, permanent and well- managed site could be like.

The council is consulting on its proposals for three additional permanent sites in the Wymondham and Earsham areas to meet a government requirement to increase provision.


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This has sparked fierce opposition from local people, who turned out in force to voice their fears at recent public meetings.

When asked whether concerns expressed about gipsies and travellers were justified, Mrs Buckley said: “We are part of the human race, a microcosm, and there is good and bad in our community as there is everywhere else. I know people have fears and concerns. I have them too, but there are sites that are run properly, and where that happens there isn't a problem

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“We have shown we can run these sites alongside towns and villages. We can integrate into the community and play our part in community life.”

However, South Norfolk Council faces an uphill struggle convincing objectors that their communities are suitable locations for the planned sites.

Its leader, John Fuller, said: “All authorities are in the same situation, and South Norfolk happens to be slightly ahead of the rest, and it is a hard sell. But if we get ourselves organised now the government will pay; if not, the bill falls on local council tax-payers.”

Parish councillors have opposed two potential sites at Ketteringham, and a village action group meets tomorrow to discuss campaign tactics.

There are strong objections to proposed developments at Spooner Row or Suton, and at Kirby Cane.

South Norfolk is holding drop-in sessions at Spooner Row Village Hall next Wednesday from 10am-1pm, 2pm-5pm and 6pm-9pm.

Mr Fuller said these offered an opportunity outside

a highly-charged public meeting for residents to obtain information in a measured way.

Meanwhile, Wymondham Town Council has formed a working party to consider the issue and will take into account local views before making its response.

The Gloria Buckley interview is available online at www.south-norfolk.co.uk

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