Travellers’ Delay could Strengthen their Case


Residents of Waltham St Lawrence were horrified when, at the end of 2009, travellers moved diggers onto local greenbelt land and laid 1,000 tonnes of concrete. They 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 travelers claimed that they had already sought planning permission before they arrived on the site but the council, Windsor and Maidenhead, said that they had not received an application from them. 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 made the application initially in December 2009 but the council insisted that the land was to be used for raising horses. The application in February was made on the basis that the gypsy children needed to receive a proper education. The legal challenge was then delayed because the travelers said that there had been an illness in their legal team and they hadn’t had sufficient time to prepare their case. The adjournment was granted, but the local authority is furious that the travelers have used delaying tactics. 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’ plight.
Gypsy travelers are increasingly using the Human Rights Act to ensure their continued occupation on unauthorised sites. In 2009, it was reported that there has been an increase of more than fifty percent on the number of illegal caravans from January 2000.

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