Jail threat moves Gypsies
GYPSIES camping on land they own in Catworth have moved off the site after Huntingdonshire District Council obtained a High Court injunction. Four men had been threatened with prison for contempt of court after breaching the injunction, but the two famili
GYPSIES camping on land they own in Catworth have moved off the site after Huntingdonshire District Council obtained a High Court injunction.
Four men had been threatened with prison for contempt of court after breaching the injunction, but the two families, the Stubleys and the Gaskins, moved away on Saturday to avoid a potential jail sentence.
They bought the land to create 13 plots for young couples with 11 children between them. They had planned to settle on the site, sending children to Brington Primary School, but had failed to apply for planning permission.
HDC obtained an injunction preventing development of the land, fighting what it described as a "co-ordinated attempt to flout the planning laws". The injunction was breached when the families put down hardcore on the field and remained on the site.
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The families applied for planning permission on August 10 and the application will now be considered by HDC.
The case returned to the High Court on Friday and was adjourned until Monday September 17.
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Kelly Stubley, 26, mother of two children who had been enrolled at Brington School, said: "We couldn't risk the lads going to prison."
Mrs Stubley, who is expecting another baby in January, added: "We wanted our children to have an education. It breaks my heart to think they will never come to anything."
Those named on the injunction were Peter and Tom Gaskin, William Stubley and Wayne Buckley.
Peter Gaskin told The Hunts Post: "We wanted our children to be off the road. We wanted them to have a settled life."
Mr Gaskin, 27, who has a 16-month-old son, runs a double glazing business and has an office in Bedford, claims the council had misled them and there had been an agreement to allow them to remain on the land.
The Gaskin and Stubley families moved on to their land on Wednesday, August 1.
Mr Gaskin, said: "We thought we had an agreement with them. They said there were conditions and we agreed to abide by them. Next thing we knew there was a court order against us."
However, HDC said no agreement ever existed. Visits from its enforcement officers explained the need for planning permission and requested development at the site should stop, it says.
The decision to go to the High Court was not taken lightly, according to HDC, but it added that the Gypsies had staged a "co-ordinated attempt to flout the planning laws".
"The council is committed to supporting appropriate sites for Gypsies and travellers and providing them with a base from which children can go to school and they can access health, employment and other facilities.
"Because of its limited access to services and facilities, this green field site is not considered to be an appropriate location.
"We understand that the land was purchased around February. Good practice in planning and guidance in the 'Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites' sets out the benefits of getting in touch with the planning authority before purchasing and occupying the site."
Planning consultant, Matthew Green, working for the Gypsies, said: "This action has been unusual. Huntingdonshire District Council has succeeded in forcing the families off the land. I have dealt with 60 cases of Gypsies seeking planning permission in the past two years and this is the only case I know where an injunction has been taken out."
He added: "It is very difficult for travellers now to carry on their traditional life. They can't stay on land they don't own and they have a battle to stay on land they do.