Berkshire

Waltham St Lawrence travellers' eviction suspended

The eviction of 40 Gypsies living on land in Berkshire has been suspended by the High Court.

The 10 families who moved on to the site at Waltham St Lawrence in December 2009 were served an eviction notice on Wednesday by the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead (RBWM) council.

It had planned to send in bailiffs on Monday to clear the site.

But the High Court order prohibits RBWM from taking any direct action for the time being.

The council must wait for the court either to give permission for application for a judicial review or to issue a further order.

The Gypsy Council's Joseph G Jones said the council had persistently failed to provide Gypsy sites for 30 years.

'Homelessness problem'

He said: "Site residents bought the land so they could get off the road, submitted a retrospective planning application which was refused, appealed the refusal and lost, submitted another planning application which the council refused to determine, preferring eviction.

"At the appeal the council and residents were given 18 months to find an alternative site, and both parties were unable to find an alternative site in that time, and that being the case... more time needs to be allocated to find an acceptable solution.

"A forced eviction is unacceptable because it would not provide a solution to the homelessness problem, and it would put the site residents in a position where they couldn't access health and education services."

RBWM, which received the order from the High Court on Thursday evening, has 21 days to formulate a response.

MJ Saunders, cabinet member for planning and property, said: "As a council we have followed and continue to respect the due and proper process of the law."

The council had said the site would be cleared of all caravans, amenity units, fencing and other "traveller paraphernalia" by enforcement specialist and council officers on 15 April.

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