Romany gipsies ignored stop notice


08 June 2005

Gipsies continued developing an unauthorised caravan site despite being served with a stop notice, a public inquiry heard yesterday.

The illegal encampment on two water meadows in the Waveney Valley, at Denton, near Harleston, started in October 2003 when the site was cleared, trees felled and hardcore put down.

This led to complaints from villagers, and the following month South Norfolk Council took enforcement requiring that development halted. But it was claimed yesterday that the encampment continued to expand, with sheds and a field shelter for ponies among the most recent additions.

More than 30 adults and children now live at the caravan site, and the inquiry is hearing an appeal by Clifford Jay, Stephen Coates and Robert Smith, against the council's refusal to grant retrospective planning consent.

Mr Coates, who lives at Plot 6 with his wife and three young children, said they wanted to settle down when they started a family and had paid £2500 for their property.

Two of the youngsters have health problems requiring hospital treatment, and the oldest boy will soon be starting at Earsham Primary School. His wife is also expecting their fourth child.

Mr Coates said if the appeal was rejected they would simply have to go back on the road, although they intended staying in the area.

"I have never lived in a house. I was born a gipsy and I will die a gipsy in a caravan. That's a tradition and a way of life," he said.

"It is very important that we stay as a community." More...