Inquiry over Gypsy site under way

A three-day inquiry has begun to determine whether Gypsies who set up camp in a Somerset village should be allowed to stay.

Several residents in North Curry have been fighting to get the 16 families evicted since they arrived last autumn.

The group, who bought the field in Oxen Lane at an auction, have put up fences and built roads.

A government inspector is to conduct a planning inquiry after Taunton Deane council denied them permission to stay.

After hearing both sides of the argument, the inspector will make a recommendation to the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who will make the final decision.

About 150 residents turned up for the first day's hearing on Tuesday.

Julia Tibbs said: "I would like to think this is the beginning of the end."

But Brian Cox, solicitor for the Gypsy families, said: "There are more than 4,000 Gypsies on unauthorised sites.

"They have nowhere to live and they have children with health and education needs and they have to live somewhere."

Last month, following a similar inquiry in Wiltshire, a group of Gypsies were allowed to stay on a site in Minety near Chippenham for a further 18 months.

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