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BUILDER'S CASE FURTHER CLARIFIES DEFINITION OF 'GYPSY'

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A stonemason and bricklayer faces losing his home after a high court judge ruled that he is not a gypsy in the eyes...
A stonemason and bricklayer faces losing his home after a high court judge ruled that he is not a gypsy in the eyes of the law.

Robert Clarke-Gowan currently lives with his family in a static caravan in Swindon, Wiltshire, but spends about six months of the year on the road in a mobile caravan, doing jobs in various parts of the country.

He was refused planning permission by North Wiltshire DC on 11 December 2000 to retain his mobile home on the land for five years.

Mr Gowan Clarke claims that his travels make him a gypsy in the eyes of the law, and therefore entitle him to keep his mobile home on the site, under less stringent planning laws regarding nomads.

An appeal against the decision was refused on 16 May last year, and the secretary of state for the environment transport and the regions refused to overturn that decision on 16 January this year.

He asked the high court in London for permission to seek judicial review of that decision.

But Mr justice Forbes ruled that his travels in search of work do not qualify him as a gypsy, meaning he and his family will be forced to move.

David Watkinson, for Mr Clarke-Gowan told the judge: 'To have a permanent residence is not in itself inconsistent with a person being a nomad or gypsy.'

But the judge disagreed, saying: 'Because the claimant and his family are in fact permanent residents at the site, there isn't that essential connection between wandering and working.'

'His travels are no different in that respect to those undertaken by many people engaged in the building trade, who are manifestly not nomadic or gypsies.

'I'm satisfied there are no arguable grounds for impugning the planning inspector's decision and this application is dismissed.'

Mr Clarke-Gowan, who must leave the site now, said afterwards: 'If I made a true statement of my feelings about how I've been treated by local authorities over the years you wouldn't dare print it.'

STRAND NEWS SERVICE

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