Village prepares for fight against Gypsy site

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Residents are preparing to fight a new application to create a gypsy caravan site on the outskirts of their village.

An application has been made to site 10 mobile homes, 10 utility dayrooms and 10 touring caravans for “nomadic use” on a piece of land off Lower Howsell Road in Leigh Sinton.

The site has been the subject of similar development proposals before. The first, for 50 pitches, was made in 1992. This went to public appeal and was rejected because it would be harmful to the character of the area and would impact on the local community.

In 2003 there was an application for holiday log cabins. This was thrown out on similar grounds.

On both occasions residents have campaigned strongly against the plans, holding crowded public meetings, raising “fighting funds” and writing dozens of letters of objection.

They say that the development would be on a greenfield site and would harm the amenity of neighbors and the village as a whole, as well as being contrary to the local plan.

One resident who lives near to the proposed site said she expected the village to unite against plans once again.

“This is the essentially exactly the same thing they wanted to do before, and the same reasons not to allow it should apply,” she added. “Obviously house prices will go down as soon as a big gypsy camp is created, and it does appear that some of these sites are not that well run. You cannot rely on what is said now as a benchmark for what it will be like over the next few years.”

Another resident, who has lived in the village for more than 20 years, said: “We have been waiting for it, but we have fought it before and will do so strongly again.

“This affects everybody in the village and I don’t think there is going to be anyone in favour of it.”

Maggie Smith-Bendell, liaison officer with the Romani Gypsy Advisory Group, believes the fears are unfounded.

She said: “These people are in desperate need of somewhere to live.

“The land is owned by the family and they are doing everything the right way. They haven’t just pulled up on the site. If, and when, they get planning permission it will be a beautiful site funded by them. They are not asking anything from the taxpayer.”
Leigh and Bransford Parish Council will discuss the application at a planning meeting in the village hall at 7.30pm on Tuesday (July 7) and residents are encouraged to attend.

“It is a sensitive subject, and we are expecting to see a few people,” said chairman Martin Gloster.

What amazes me again and again is that anything that is for Gypsies will faught tooth and nail by residents on grounds that “ it would be harmful to the character of the area and would impact on the local community” while, when the land, as has happened in some instances, is sold off to developers who then wish to build a housing estate there the planning permission is, in a great number of cases, granted.

When it is Gypsies who wish to create a “housing estate”, albeit a caravan site, it is in issue of “would be harmful to the character of the area and would impact on the local community” but that seems to change when it is houses for Gohja (non-Gypsies) that are being built. What a load of £*&^!

It does not matter, we can see, yet again, whether Gypsies go about it the proper way or not. They will be refused planning and that despite the fact that, so it was said, they should be able to make provisions for their own housing. Dordi! One rule for the Gohja and one for the Gyppo. Still the same as always.

Instead of fighting against the development why don't the people actually get together with the Gypsy? In the same way I would like to suggest to the Gypsy families to try and invite the locals over for a BBQ or such and maybe that way prejudiced can be overcome and things worked out. I am not holding out much hope from what I see of the behavior of the locals but... in my view worth a try.

© 2009