Waltham St Lawrence illegal camp costs council £113k in legal fees

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Attempts to evict Gypsies living on an illegal camp in Berkshire have cost the local council £113,000 in legal fees, an FOI request has revealed.

Windsor and Maidenhead council wants to evict 10 families who moved to Shurlock Road, Waltham St Lawrence, in 2009.

Gypsies at the site requested two judicial reviews from the High Court, but both found in favour of the council.

Two appeal hearings are due to take place on 7 November.

Family caravans

One follows the findings of a judicial review over a council decision to decline a planning application made in December 2012.

The application was made by an occupant of the site, Jane Eastwood, requesting permission to site caravans for the family, and put in fencing and other amenities.

A second hearing is over the council's decision to evict occupants from the site.

Lawyer Keith Lomax, who represents the traveller and Gypsy community, said the legal costs were not surprising.

"If a judicial review is held, it means the courts think the applicant has a valid case," he said.

'Absolute respect'

Councillor Michael John Saunders said he was not concerned about the costs incurred so far, but was worried that the council become would caught up in a series of legal challenges which seemed to be "never-ending".

"I have an absolute respect for due process, but I've found due process takes longer than it has to take," he said.

Mr Saunders said he feared the people living on the camp would submit another planning application following the appeal hearings which would delay eviction further.

"As long as this merry-go-round keeps running, we will incur costs," he said.

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