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court ref no: T951336 ...
court ref no: T951336

A gypsy who pitched his caravan in a 'special landscape area' was fined £150 in London's high court today after a case which has cost his local council almost £5,000 to bring, and is set to cost still more.

Lancaster City Council launched its action against John Beard after the part-time carpet salesman repeatedly ignored planning notices ordering him to move from the Cinderbarrow Malt Kiln, Cinderbarrow Lane, Yealand, Redmayne, Lancaster.

But, although Beard admitted one charge of contravening the planning notice between June 1994 and November 1994, the local authority will have to return to court to evict him because the judge had no power to order him off the land at today's hearing.

Sentencing the 61-year-old to pay the fine, together with £100 costs, the judge Mr Justice Laws told Paul Tucker, who was prosecuting for the city council: 'It seems to me your clients have spent nearly £5,000 pursuing a remedy which is not available because they are not going to get rid of him.'

Mr Tucker admitted the authority would now have to take further action to evict Beard but said the decision to prosecute for breaching the planning laws had been taken at a time when the legislation in the area had been 'uncertain' and the authority 'had wanted to pursue all avenues'.

The court heard Beard had bought the site in 1987 and had then applied for planning permission to instal several caravans.

Permission was refused despite a public inquiry but Beard and his wife moved their caravan onto the site in 1991.

A notice to leave was served on Beard by the authority but he remained on site, instead applying for planning permission to install just one caravan.

Permission was again refused and in 1994 Beard was fined £300 by magistrates after admitting breaching the notice.

Today he was back in court after still failing to leave the site.

His counsel, Anthony Crean, told the court Beard and his wife were trying to find an alternative site but it was proving difficult to find one large enough to take their mobile home.

Other sites suitable in terms of size could not be used, said Mr Crean, because they were occupied by 'a family hostile to Mr Beard's family.'

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