Following a challenge by Labour Councillors on Suffolk County Council the decision over the planned sale of the West Meadows gypsy and traveller site has been postponed until the next Cabinet meeting on the 7th November.
The postponement is an admission that a full consultation with the residents had not taken place and at no stage had the council listened to the concerns of the residents about the planned sale. We can be sure that the gaps in the paper presented to the Cabinet highlighted by the Labour Group were the reason for the decision not to discuss the paper.
The official reason was that a stakeholder meeting to discuss the paper with residents was to be held the following day is simply is not true. Firstly, this was a pre-existing tenant meeting and secondly, Suffolk County Council is not allowed by their constitution to enact any decision for 48 hours after Cabinet decides on an action in case the decision is called in.
Labour Group Leader Sandra Gage said; “It was clear that the County Council had gone about this in completely the wrong way. They have not engaged with the borough and district councils, the police and other stakeholders. Most importantly though they have not consulted with those people who have made the site their homes. We welcome the decision, but it raises the question of why the council did not talk to residents sooner.
She added; “I do not think delaying the decision to sell the site for a month will give SCC sufficient time to address the many issues adequately. I question how they think they think they will be able to consult with Ipswich Borough Council, the Police and most importantly the residents of the site to come up with viable option by the time the Cabinet next meets”.
The County Councillor for Whitehouse and Whitton, where the site is situated, Labour’s Kathy Bole said; “Finally, sense has broken out over this issue, but now Suffolk County Council will really have to listen to the residents, rather than pay lip service to it. The residents need assurances that should the sale go ahead any proposed covenant is robust enough to offer all of the families the protection they need for their long-term security without the fear of eviction or discrimination no matter who runs the site”.