Wheathampstead gipsies face court injunction

PUBLISHED: 19:00 21 December 2009 | UPDATED: 14:47 06 May 2010

A LEGAL injunction is to be sought by the district council to remove gipsies illegally camped close to a village. St Albans council s plans (north) committee decided last week to go to the High Court over Riverbank Stables in Wheathampstead on which the g

A LEGAL injunction is to be sought by the district council to remove gipsies illegally camped close to a village.

St Albans council's plans (north) committee decided last week to go to the High Court over Riverbank Stables in Wheathampstead on which the gipsies, who own two houses in Luton, have been living for over two years.

In the past the council has refused two applications to change the use of the site from Green Belt to residential, both of which were taken to appeal and dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate who agreed that significant harm would be caused to the Green Belt by living on the land.

Agreeing that the council should take the matter to the High Court, the committee heard that if an injunction was granted, the family would have a short time to leave the site.

If they remained, their refusal to leave could be viewed as contempt of court which could be punished by imprisonment.

Cllr Judy Shardlow, district councillor for Wheathampstead, said: "Our legal team have received very thorough and well-considered legal advice, the committee supported the recommendation to take High Court action and I hope this action will proceed quickly.

"The Planning Inspectorate agrees with us that the gipsies must leave, this has all been going on for far too long."

Cllr Chris Brazier, the council's portfolio holder for planning, added: "We must be seen as taking action over illegal encampments or we will send out the message that we are a soft touch.

"We have also stated that we have provided our full quota of legal gipsy sites and pitches in the district.


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