Concerns over private Gypsy site

A special planning meeting is to be held in Carleton Rode to determine a controversial application for a private Gypsy and Traveller site, so reported the Wymondham & Attleborough Mercury on Wednesday, February 25, 2009.

The district council has received more than 120 letters from residents giving their views on Romany John Leveridge's proposal to create a permanent home for his extended family on farmland at The Turnpike.

Many have voiced concerns about highways dangers as the site is beside a busy stretch of road, regarded locally as an accident black spot where speeding is a problem. Objectors also claim the land was sold for agricultural use and is unsuitable for residential development.

Cllr Beverley Spratt, who represents Carleton Rode, said: “Many local residents have called me expressing their opposition to these plans and they were geared-up for the full planning committee meeting on March 4.

“Now that the county highways information is taking longer than expected to arrive, I have arranged for a special planning committee to be held in Carleton Rode village hall when the data is available.”

Mr Spratt said it is hoped to hold the meeting in mid-April. He added: “Local people can be reassured that not only are their concerns being listened to but I have made sure that the planning committee will be coming into Carleton Rode to see for themselves the strength of local opinion.”

A Romany gipsy, currently living in a bungalow at Great Melton, Mr Leveridge restores traditional horse-drawn gipsy wagons and plans to repair existing buildings on his land at The Turnpike.

But, it is really amazing, in my view, that every time that a Romany (Romani or Rom to be correct) wishes to set up his own site concerns from the public over closeness to a main road, or, on other occasions the fact that it is away from shops and schools, are raised.

No one seems to have a problem, however, when a government sites puts Romany Gypsies and/or Travellers slap bang next to a sewage works, a municipal rubbish tip, or even on top of an old, disused tip and often those places are also far away from shops and schools. No one seems to then have those concerns then.

But when it is a Romany (or Travellers) wishing to make their own provisions such "concerns" are raised by the public.

Let's face it. Those residents know full well that such "concerns" may stop the development and that is all. Not in our backyard, is the message, loud and clear, as ever, in those cases. It has nothing whatsoever to do with concern for the people and the children, for instance, but everything with anti-Gypsyism.

The fact is that this is not a Gypsy and Traveller site but a private site for a Romany's extended family, so people really have no need to worry about an influx of “pikies” into the area.

Nevertheless, they still have those fears. Mr. Leveridge has been living, as it has been said, in a bungalow at Great Melton and I wonder as to whether anyone has asked the locals there with regards to his standing and that of his family.

Each and every time, as I have indicated already, when a Rom wishes to make private provisions for himself and his extended family, for this is how we Roms live, in extended families and we love to have all generations near us, preferably on the same piece of land, then people make noises against it and often aided and abetted, if not even riled, by local Councillors who should be representing all people.

It would appear, however, that, as far as they be concerned, Gypsies do not fall under “people”.

I rest my case...

M Smith (Veshengro), February 2009