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'NECESSITY' FORCED GYPSY FAMILY TO STAY PUT

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Basildon DC has failed in a High Court fight against the grant of planning permission to a family of gypsies who it...
Basildon DC has failed in a High Court fight against the grant of planning permission to a family of gypsies who it claimed had abandoned their nomadic status and no longer deserved special treatment.

The council had asked Sir Richard Tucker to quash a government planning inspector's decision to grant planning permission to mother Rachel Cooper and daughter Elizabeth Cooper to house their families in mobile homes and other structures on land in Wichford, Essex, where they have lived for six years.

However, the judge today backed the inspector's decision, ruling that it was not flawed, and leaving the council facing a £6,000 bill for the Coopers' legal costs, on top of the money it spent in bringing the claim to court. The council were refused permission to appeal, and must now ask the Court of Appeal directly if they wish to take the matter further.

The ruling means that the gypsy family can remain on the site. Rachel lives with husband William, sons Mark and John and granddaughter Elizabeth, on the plot known as Foxglove, and won permission for change of use of the land to a gypsy caravan site consisting of a mobile home, touring caravan, utility room and hardstanding.

Finding in favour of the gypsies, Sir Richard Tucker ruled that the council had failed to establish that the inspector's decision was in any way flawed.

He backed the inspector's finding that the Coopers had stopped travelling and set up on the site as a result of the failure of the council and other local authorities to provide sites for gypsies to live on, and as a result of their desire to provide a stable education for the children.

He said: 'They have lived there not by choice, but by necessity. They would prefer to live by the roadside, but find it impossible to do so.'

The CRM National Programme has more than 396 organisations involved:

- 34 funded local authorities

- 49 un-funded local authorities

- 154 local authorities registered with the Programme

- 58 other public bodies (police, health etc)

- 101 registered CRM suppliers

The programme was laun ched in January 2003 and is due to finish in March

2004.

www.upwardcurve.co.uk

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