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Traveller tells Newent inquiry he has 'nowhere else to go'

By The Citizen  |  Posted: November 08, 2012

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A TRAVELLER has been challenged over his right to live on land in Newent.

Ricky Jones, 40, spoke yesterday at an inquiry into land he and other families have been living on for three years without permission.

He said they were "lucky and fortunate" to have found the site in Southend Lane and were keen to stay there as they have nowhere else to go.

The planning appeal inquiry began at Newent Community Centre on Monday. It is dealing with two appeals; one against an enforcement notice served by Forest of Dean District Council, and one against the rejection of plans to build a 13-pitch caravan site on the land.

Father-of-four Mr Jones bought the land with others for £50,000 and described everyone living there as "like a family".

But Forest of Dean District Council, which is fighting to remove them from the land, questioned this.

A council officer asked Mr Jones detailed questions about people living on the site.

She asked where they had lived previously and when they had arrived on the site.

When he was unable to answer some of the questions, he said he was "not the warden of the site".

He added: "We are not the type of community to get into personal questions like that."

The officer said: "This is the difference between families that are close-knit and support each other through ups and downs and people who don't know each other and don't need to be kept together."

Mr Jones was also questioned over whether he could live elsewhere. He also owns a site in Hereford and moves between there and Newent with his wife and twin boys.

He said the site in Hereford was subject to an enforcement notice. When asked where he could go if he cannot stay in Newent, he said: "We have got nowhere to go. The council has nowhere for us to go."

The hearing continues.

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  • Bonkim2003  |  November 09 2012, 10:17AM

    Lord_Gaga_ that is what developers do - people take advantage of opportunities - buy cheap, sell dear when opportunity knocks - basic business strategy. Same with farmers close to towns - waiting when land will be needed for housing or shopping centres.

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  • Lord_Gaga_  |  November 09 2012, 9:57AM

    YOU JUST DONT GET IT, DO YOU. they buy land cheap without planning permision, live there unofficialy hoping to get planning, then sell it at a much higher price, these dids arn't daft

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  • Bonkim2003  |  November 08 2012, 8:14PM

    2ladybugs - agree with you - why should this chap not be allowed to set home in a caravan working close to his place of employment subject to the usual considerations of public health, etc - unless the council allocates him social housing. Same story at many caravan Parks in various parts of the country many of which were set up contrary to planning regulationand continue to cause much conflict with those living in settled estates. There are silly stipulations on how long someone can live in caravan parks and Freedom of caravan lease holders are severely restricted which allows the land-owners to exploit their vulnerabilities. Many are from the older generation and suffer without such issues being spread across the front pages.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  November 08 2012, 7:27PM

    @Bonkim.....I am sure you are right . However a horticultural establishment just across a couple of fields from me applied for caravan accommodation for a worker who had been employed by the business for 4 years,.........they were turned down on more than one occasion. There is something very wrong with the system.

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  • Bonkim2003  |  November 08 2012, 7:11PM

    2ladybugs - most people use the planning system to get what they want - any number of planning and licensing breaches and many monstrosities without planning permission go through on later application, or on appeal - only where Travellers are involved and their overlay/suspicion of criminal/anti-social practices - it is high profile news because of historic/embedded prejudices - same reason councils have been dragging their heels in developing Gypsy & Traveller sites although they had a legal responsibility to do so under Labour - but now somewhat diluted under the coalition government which has thrown that at local communities to sort out - also penalties for trespass, etc - ultimately the local community has a responsibility under law and unless they wake up, such situations will continue causing much local ill-feelings, and uncertainty. Not all local councils are abiding by the law or spirit of localism in the new legislation, which is much more relaxed/enabling than restrictive/controlling as councils want it to be. Gypsy and traveller sites responsibility/ legislation no different from say a council's responsibility to enable social and market housing and allocate land to meet different needs - and look up how much money/time spent in subsidising housing and managing social housing. Legal sites provide council tax and good community relations. Simply throwing the law at breaches does not get results - as similar experience dealing with anti-social, and criminal/ anti-social behaviour within settled communities. Often it is action or inaction following the path of least resistance. Why should people be expected to behave the same in a free society? Britain was always an individualistic/libertarian society - that is what released the creativity and sense of adventure over the paste three centuries - why should non-conformists (not just travellers) be persecuted? Where settled, travellers have integrated with community life and no discordance between settled and traveller lifestyles. Plenty of examples in Lincolnshire where historically travellers filled in seasonal work and farmers were cooperative in providing winter accommodation. there are also some examples in Gloucestershire but good-news are not newsworthy, are they?

  • Lord_Gaga_  |  November 08 2012, 4:39PM

    Douglasknows thats the crack, buy land cheap without planning permision, live there unofficialy hoping to get planning, then sell it at a much higher price, these dids arn't daft

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  • 2ladybugs  |  November 08 2012, 1:21PM

    @ Bonkim .....The planning laws, I feel, leave a lot to be desired. They seem to be open to different interpretations, dependent on your local planning departments. They are either going to allow every plan to be passed regardless, or, they are going to balk at every plan put forward. Whilst you are probably right about this appeal, I do feel that there is one law for some people and other laws for everybody else.

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  • Bonkim2003  |  November 08 2012, 11:21AM

    2ladybugs - on the other hand, this goes against the grain of the coalition thrust to widen definition of what a home is, and also deemed consent - n regard to the chap who wants to pitch a tent on his neighbour's land - assuming his neighbour allows him to do that - why should it not be allowed. The real reason for shortage/high prices for second rate houses is the complexity of planning regulation and interpretation of planning laws in favour of some, and against that don't push enough. - and many councils are up in arms against the coalition government's aims for liberalisation, and offering local communities financial and other incentives - councils stand to get in considerable increased rax revenues if planning is allowed. I won't be surprised if the council loses traveller appeals simply because they have been dragging their heels in providing legal sites to Gypsies and travellers, and forcing many to adopt such illegal developments. No different from people that squatted in empty houses in the past, with scarcity of land where the travelling community can camp legally. Times have changed and I suppose he travellers also need to adapt and change their nomadic ways - register as homeless or on the council housing list. All this legal procedures are costing you and me plenty regardless of the rights and wrongs of traveller planning appeals..

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  • Douglasknows  |  November 08 2012, 10:55AM

    There's obviously good money to be made from travelling! £50,000 for a plot without planning permission doesn't seem the wisest investment though.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  November 08 2012, 9:39AM

    There are a lot of people with "nowhere to go" so does this give them all the right to go and pitch up on land, anywhere they like and stay there indefinitely? I am sure there must be official travellers sites around the country where they can go. I suppose if I had a mobile home (which I haven't) by the very nature of the word "mobile" being the word describing that type of home, they could in theory be placed anywhere in the countryside. No.......... I thought not.

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