Residents of Waltham St Lawrence were horrified when, at the end of 2009, travellers moved diggers onto local green belt land and laid 1,000 tonnes of concrete. They then moved caravans in, tore down hedgerows and blocked roads. Council leaders sought and obtained an injunction at the High Court that put a stop to the work, but the caravans that were there already were allowed to remain on the site.
The travellers claimed that they had already sought planning permission before they arrived on the site but Windsor and Maidenhead Council denied having received any such application. In February of this year, a plan was submitted by the owner of the land. The application was to move 39 Romany Gypsies onto the land. He claimed that he had first made the application in December 2009, but the Council said it had been told that the land was to be used for keeping horses. The application in February was made on the basis that the travellers’ children needed to receive a proper education. The legal challenge was then delayed because the travellers said they hadn’t had sufficient time to prepare their case owing to illness amongst their legal team. The adjournment was granted, but the local authority is angry at what it views as deliberate delaying tactics on the part of the travellers.
The case will not be heard until the end of the year, when the children will have been at the local school for three months. This could mean that the court takes a more sympathetic view of the travellers’ position.
Gypsy travellers are increasingly using the Human Rights Act to ensure their continued occupation on unauthorised sites. In 2009, it was reported that there had been an increase of more than 50 per cent since January 2000 in the number of illegally parked caravans.
If you are experiencing difficulties with neighbours or interference with your property rights, contact us for advice.